Radiology: Imag(in)ing Medicine’s Potential

In 1895, Mrs. Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen saw the inside of her own hand. Her husband had become deeply intrigued by the phenomenon of exciting electrons. These beams left shadowy radiographs when passed through opaque objects and then released on film. Röntgen tested a set of weights, a piece of metal, and, most famously, his wife’s hand. “I have seen my death.” she exclaimed, shocked at her husband’s discovery [1], [2].

Due to the potential medical applications, Röntgen chose to not patent his discovery. And thus, the field of radiology was born. In 1901, Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen was awarded the first Nobel Prize in Physics “in recognition of the extraordinary services he has rendered by the discovery of the remarkable rays subsequently named after him” [3]. While his named invention, Roentgen rays fell out of favor, X-rays did not. 

Radiology has become the backbone of medicine. A collection of diagnostic tools that to diagnose or treat disease, radiology allows for medical professionals, researchers, and patients  to better understand what drives maladies  and fix “what we cannot see” [4]. There are many types of imaging modalities. These include radiography, such as mammograms and fluoroscopy, ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), nuclear medicine including positron emission tomography (PET), fluoroscopy, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Radiology is vital for nearly every sector of health care, including surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics, cancer-care, trauma-response, emergency medicine, infectious disease and so much more. 

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