X-rays: laying the foundation of modern radiology, 1896-1930. Academic Article uri icon


  • The authors describe the initial impact and far-reaching consequences of the discovery of x-rays in 1895. Roentgen was quick to realise the importance of this mysterious new kind of ray he had discovered. As early as 1896 x-rays were already being used in surgery and medicine, replacing Bell's telephonic needle probe, which could only detect metallic objects by sound and was therefore limited to the location of objects such as bullets for removel. As x-ray diagnosis became more accurate, radiological techniques were gradually improved over the years and progressed from examination of the skeleton to imaging complex internal organs. The x-ray became vital in the detection of tuberculosis, for which it is still used today. Through the use of opaque substances such as barium sulfate it became possible to visualise the digestive tract and later advances in photographic techniques made visible the brain and almost all parts of the body. Meanwhile the dangers of radiation were recognized and after 1930 safety measures were introduced to protect radiologists and patients against overexposure. In the hundred years since its discovery the ever-widening scope of radiology has made it a fundamental resource in medical diagnosis and treatment.

author list (cited authors)

  • Strickland, D., & Stranges, A. N.

citation count

  • 1

publication date

  • January 1991