X-radiation exposure in medical imaging
RWTH Aachen University Chair for the History of Technology Aachen, Gemany
Note: This abstract is submitted for the special joint session between RN8 (Disaster and Social Crisis) and RN24 (Science and Technology):
Science and Technology: their role in the generation and prevention/mitigation of crises and disasters
The most important discovery in the field of medicine concerning medical imaging was carried out in 1895 by Wilhelm C. Roentgen. The discovery of the X-rays changed the whole landscape of body-imaging and radiographs found their ways into the hospitals shortly after.
The idea of producing images of interior objects which are not visible from the outside seemed so tempting and revolutionary that these equipments were not only used for medical terms but also in everyday life. Radiographs were even used by shoe store customers to detect whether a new shoe fits or not. But besides all enthusiasm people forgot the danger which X-rays brought along. The cancer-causing characteristic of this type of radiation was not identified at the beginning. Not until 1976 the first Radiation Protection Ordinance in Germany was published.
In this paper the historical development and the social impact of the discovery of X-radiation is illustrated from the beginning until today. The main focus is put on X-rays and computer tomography as the most common methods in modern medical imaging and their influence on minimal invasive therapy.