THE Roentgen or x rays are developed by means of a powerful current of electricity which is passed through a large glass tube from end to end rather than on an incandescent principle by which the current returns through the same aperture that it enters. These tubes have had the air withdrawn from them to the highest possible degree, in which respect they are like incandescent lamp globes. The x ray tube is called a "Crookes" tube, named from the inventor. The discharge of electric current through the rarefied air in the tube allows the transmission of shadows through what was formerly an opaque or non light conducting substance. Professor Roentgen of Wurtzburg, Germany, is the man to whom the discovery belongs, though four or five years before his announcement, Hirtz had shown that light waves were able to penetrate solid matter. In 1895 Roentgen accidentally discovered that a certain chemically prepared paper becomes phosphorescent when used in connection with a Crookes tube. From this date the development of the so called x ray has been rapid. It is well known that nails, screws, and other metallic substances my be imbedded in wood, and their exact location shown by means of the x rays, but it is of interest to know what development the new science has made in medicine and surgery. We can discover where a bullet lies in a head or in an arm, whether in bone or in muscle or in the regions where it is too dangerous to attempt to remove the foreign body and allow it to remain. Broken bones show up well under the influence of the x rays and bad results after fracture may be determined and better ones obtained by resetting. Varieties of club foot and flat foot may be inspected and the operation necessary for their cure determined. In cases owing to too much swelling or pain where either fracture or a sprain may be present, we may determine with exactness which injury we have to deal with. Philadelphia surgeons lately were able to make out the exact spot at which a jackstone was located in a child's gullet, and its removal by the knife was accomplished.
As the detection of one substance from another depends upon the difference in density between two substances, it stands to reason that the greater difference there is the clearer the picture will come out. By means of the so called Fluoroscope we investigated the conditions as they are in the living, but it is possible by means of the so called skiagraph to take an x ray photograph and permanently preserve the picture. Valuable as the x rays axe as a means of diagnosis, their importance is increased in medicine. Here a man well acquainted with the working of the machine may see a heart beat inside the body, may detect the beginning of changes in the lung which is the forerunner of consumption, may decide with certainty that a stone or calculus is located in the kidneys or bladder where its presence was only suspected. By the dentist the eruption of the teeth and the presence of retained roots or even extra teeth in the jaw may be discovered. For the obstetrician the position as well as the size of the child may be located in the mother. Medicinally the x ray is being used largely. In certain varieties of cancer the growth is stopped, the inflammation is lessened, healing takes place and in favorable cases a perfect cure is obtained. This treatment holds true in too few cases to enable us to lose our dread of that disease and only w"2 are there are skin manifestations, and those not extensive, are they able to be held in check. When cancers are deep seated, as in the stomach or the liver, in which localities they are so liable to affect, we cannot expect much improvement. In a great variety of skin disease, as in eczema, neuralgia, pains, ulcers, keloid and lupus, the result As severe burns are from the Roentgen ray is extremely gratifying. liable to result where the rays are brought in contact with normal, that is, healthy skin, some means of prevention is to be used. Lead foil is placed on the body with a hole cut in it the size of the disease which is to be treated; the current is then turned on and the radiations from the tube are stopped by the non conducting metal foil and only go through the opening under which the disease is present. An interrupted electric current is the means used to obtain the spark which jumps across the glass tube before described, and this break in the wire varies from eight to fourteen inches, according to the desire of the operator. The machine is made so that there will be about twenty five thousand interruptions a minute.
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