July 2012 - Donna Magid, M.D., M.Ed.
Opinions are mine alone, and do not reflect the Dept., Institution, or American Board of Radiology. Potential errors also mine alone, accuracy not guaranteed. For orientation/introductory purposes only, do not disseminate or quote.
- Nov. 1895: Roentgen publishes description of ‘x-rays’, capable of penetrating tissue and creating an image on photographic plates.
- 1896: 1st 1000 articles (some of dubious medical value) follow (Lancet 1897 described locating a baker’s ring in a freshly baked cake). (Over the next few years, an x-ray crazy public would start exchanging hand images instead of photographs—although the first report of radiation burn to the hand also appeared this year, in “Deutsche medicinische Wochenschrift”-- or other tokens, and would be offered irrelevant and dangerous products and services such as a 15 minute x-ray exposure ‘guaranteed to cure headaches”, similar ‘x-ray headache tablets,' x-ray-associated shoe polishes, stove cleaners, golf balls [more bounce?], and - perhaps most horrifying—radioactive “disease-preventing prophylactics,” aka condoms).
- 1897: Osler proposes acquiring a ‘Roentgen Ray Apparatus” (RRA) which does not arrive until 1901, with Drs.Baetjer and Cushing.
- 1901: Roentgen awarded first Physics Nobel prize. Exposure times at this point ranged from the shortest - 5 minutes - up to 20 minutes.
- 1902: 1st skin neoplasm reported
- 1910: 1st published report of Roentgen ray ‘poisoning’
- 1928: 1st Committee on Protection and Mortality. Established measurement units, little else.
- 1929: Committee advised ‘Skiagraphers’ to wear ‘kid gloves”
- 1936: “X-Ray Martyrs” published; a monument to ‘radium martyrs’ inscribed with the names of those dying of radiation-associated disease was also erected in Hamburg, Germany. Dr. Baetjer had died, age 59, in 1933 of radiation-related disease. Extensive over-exposure of his hands in particular had led to decades of non-healing ulcerations and lesions, over 100 surgical procedures and progressive amputations, and death from radiation-induced neoplasms.
- 1976: First mandated room shielding. NOW: Radiation protection, monitoring and usage rules at national, state and Institutional levels; mandated protection of individuals and adjacent rooms; mandated monitoring, inspection, licensing, quality assessment, performance reviews......We’ve come a long way!
- 2006: ‘SENTINEL EVENT’: First time that medical/dental/human-generated exposure dose per capita on planet exceed natural/background radiation levels. Biggest contributor to this 600% increase over 25 preceding years: CT.