A Conversation for X-Rays
Also ran 1 Started conversation Jul 25, 2002
As one who studied to be a radiographer little more than twenty years after Marie Curie died, I am surprised that she is not mentioned in your article. I was under the impression that it was in fact Marie Curie who saw the huge potential of X-rays in medcine. In fact in a lot of other aspects of our lives.
As Marie Pawlowska she studied at the Sorbonne after leaving her native Poland. It was where she met her future husband to be Pierre Curie. My dear, beloved, paternal grandfather was a fellow student in their Physics class. I wish that I had been old enough to speak to him more about this wonderful woman. I seem to remember reading in her biography, written by her daughter Eve, about the occasions when the bones in her hand were imprinted on a phtographic sheet which just happened to be lying close by. Roentgen was certainly the first to discover the strength of Xrays, but I really thought that the Curie's realised their potentian, and that during the First World War Marie Curie formed the first Xray service for the wounded in battle. Thanks for having stirred that part of my memory. Regards AR1
Alex PN Posted Nov 5, 2002
You are correct about M.Curie setting up a mobile X-ray service during WWI.
I would be surprised if M.Curie were mentioned in an article on X-rays as her notoriety is associated with radioacticity and Radium, rather than artificially generated X-rays. There are many pictures of her donating radium samples for use in cancer treatment.
Radium gave out a much more highly penetrant X-ray (also called a gamma ray because it is emitted from a natural radionuclide) of about 4 MeV (mega-electron volt energy). When they put a lot of radium into a block inside a large lead container, it was called a 'radium bomb'. Similar strength X-ray beams were not produced artificially until the cumbersome Van der Graaf generators of the 50s, and early linear accelerators and betatrons of the 60s.
Historically, X-rays were used therapeutically inside a year of their discovery in 1895. A hairy mole (a mark on a patient, not an animal!)was successfully treated in Vienna in 1896.
Also ran 1 Posted Nov 7, 2002
Thanx for the information
How on earth did they think of treating a hairy mole( not an animal) with X rays? Was it an inspired guess I wonder?
In my training we were required to study both diagnostic and therapy.
I must say I disliked therapy immensely because invariably the patients were either in great pain or incurably ill.
Alex PN Posted Nov 8, 2002
I suppose the hairy mole was treated on the Himalayan Convention - i.e. it was there! The original xray machines only provided very superficially penetrating beams, so treating something on the skin could be a reasonable first attempt.
Sorry your experience of therapy was so bad - we actually cure about 30% of our patients at present. For the incurable ones we provide quite a substantial palliative benefit also. Where did you train?
You should try and get back to a therapy department and look at the changes - you will be really amazed.
Also ran 1 Posted Nov 9, 2002
Dear Alex PN
I trained at the Johannesburg General in South Africa and got my diploma in 1949 being awarded my MSR, In those far away days we used to write the British exam and we got a British diploma.We did a year of diagnostic and a year of therapy. Now they do all sorts of different things including nuclear medcine and of course scanning. a Kitty Clark had about three pages on this examination on arteriograms in her manual which was about a quarter of the size it is now. However it was very interesting because they were doing a lot of pioneer work at the General on cardiac cases and that was fascinating.. So you see you were probably not even born!!.
When we did a lateral lumbar on a particular machine we had to expose for seven seconds (YES!!!) and sparks would fly between the two spheres above the unfortunate patient.
I have had some experience of therapy (which I refused and accepted a thoracotomy instead!!) Fortunately the tumour they removed was not malignant. It was just the general air that everyone we worked with were either patients coming in from a car crash - or tuberculotic - or had fractures, or tumours or ..Oh dear, it was such a sad profession because one could never get to know one's patient. I am sure that things are much better now and thank goodness there are people like you who enjoy and are fascinated by the profession.
I still think that Marie Curie was a wonderful visionary in the field. When did it start in England?
Sincere good wishes
Bolivia Sue Posted Nov 30, 2002
I just wanted to say that I found the information above really fascinating. I'm a radiographer working in England, I've been qualified for 14 years and although I do a lot of general work, my specialities are CT and MRI. I really enjoy my work in MRI and it's a pleasure to work with a modality that DOESN'T involve radiation but has a whole different set of safety rules and regulations.
The idea of having an exposure time of 7 seconds for a lumbar spine..........wow!
Also ran 1 Posted Dec 1, 2002
Dear Bolivia Sue,
T'is true however.!!
I think that having all these new methods has totally transformed the role of a radiographer and made it much more "patient" friendly profession. I always felt so bad because what ever we did in my day was extremely uncomfortable and very often very painful for the patient.
You could'nt have a brain scan if you had a tumour. You would have to have either burr-holes drilled into your skull and air injected whilst the patient was being X-rayed. Or you had a ventriculogram I think it was called, when csf was removed from the spinal column and air injected. It went into the ventricles of the brain and if there was some abnormality it showed up.
I suppose the only reasonable comparison now must be the radiographers working in the A & E units. That cannot have changed much.
I have had two bone scans - one having had a radioactive isotope injected intravenously and then having my joints "phtographed". that was how the psoriatic arthropophy was diagnosed. And this year I had another one for osteoporosis and to see the state of the joints. I marvelled at the technique and the fact that everything was done in the light. Most of the time we worked in complete darkness - and of course we generally had to develop our own films.!1
With many greetings.
Bolivia Sue Posted Dec 2, 2002
I am yet again intrigued at your insight into radiography. Anything else you can share with me would be gratefully received!
I gained my post-graduate diploma in Nuclear Medicine a couple of years after qualifying and so retain a little knowledge about bone scans etc. although I have to say MRI and CT have taken over for me, and I've not practised in Nuclear Med. for quite a few years. Air encephalography is not something I've ever seen and I'd love to show you our MRI scanner and the amazing images we are able to acquire from it. We can visualise structures just a millimetre or so - some scans we do routinely give us axial images 0.75mm in width. It still astounds me!
However, I am hoping to go overseas in the next year or two, to work in Africa or India, and I suspect I will be going back to basics there. I think it will do me good............
Also ran 1 Posted Dec 8, 2002
We used to have to do pelvimetries on these unfortunate african ladies whilst they were in labour.
It seems that some obstetrician was doing research and needed to know why the bones of the pelvis did not start "separating" earlier before the baby was born Well there was apparently a very common reason for this. and this was that most of the African ladies had to work in the fields literally until the day of the baby's birth. Had their bones of the pelvic inlet and outlet started separating earlier there would have been a host of miscarriages. But I have often felt so sorry about the way we asked these poor ladies in labour to put their heads between their knees etc.
Well done you going to work abroad. I am sure that where it is possible to have new technology you will find it, but probably on the outstations there will be old fashioned machines.
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