Chapter 17 - Surgical Diseases
Modern Surgery
Suppuration and Abscess
Ulceration and Ulcers
Malignant Pustule
Burns and Scalds
Frost Bite
Septic Wounds
Incised Wounds
Rules for Examining and Dressing Wounds
Antiseptic Dressings
Way Wounds Unite
Punctured Wounds
Lacerated Wounds
Granulation and Scarification
Gunshot Wounds
Poisoned Wounds
Way Broken Bones Unite
Different Diseases of Bones
White Swelling
Stiff Joint
Water in the Scrotum
Blood in the Scrotum
Varicose Veins
Deformities and Irritations of the Spine
Wry Neck
Foreign Bodies in the Eye
Inflammation of the Edge of the Eyelids
Disorder of the Lashes
Chronic Inflammation of the Lachrymal Sac
Inflammation of the Cornea
Inflammation of the Iris
Weakness of Sight
Imperfect Vision
Short and Long Sight
Affections of the Ear
Inflammation of the Meatus
Wax in the Ear
Inflammation of the Tympanum, Deafness
Bleeding from the Nose
Ingrowing Toe Nail
Chafing and Excoriation
Foreign Substances
Bleeding from Wounds
Proud Flesh
Compression of Arteries to Stop the Flow of Blood
Care of the Teeth
Rotting of the Teeth
Filling Teeth
The First Teeth
Cleaning the Teeth
Ulcer of the Stomach
Riggs' Disease

17.86 Radium


A CERTAIN substance, has been discovered to which the name of radium has been given, which has the power after an exposure to light, of transmitting rays in every direction. By further investigation certain salts were separated from uranium and the impurities from these salts found to have greater power of transmitting rays. They have the same general properties that were found in the Roentgen x rays, but a latent power is the cause of the phenomenon rather than electricity, as in the x rays. Since 1901, Professor Currie with his wife, have added greatly to the knowledge concerning this body. In appearance radium is a crystal not unlike common salt and glows feebly in the dark. It has been impossible to obtain radium in any large amount, in fact, it requires eight tons of the residue from the radium ore to yield fifteen grains of pure radium. This would bring the price up to about $125 a grain, which is three thousand times the price of gold. The rays that emanate from radium have the power of imparting their glow to all articles they are in the vicinity of. The hand, clothes and instruments of an experimenter with radium absorb the power of glowing in the dark. Although the scarcity of radium was mentioned, it is remarkable with all the investigators attempting to obtain it that there is so little still on the market. One year ago it was estimated that in the whole of Europe, including Germany and France, not more than forty grains of pure radium salt exists. The power of continually emitting the feeble light which it was formerly supposed did not cause any lessening of the substance itself, is now known to diminish its weight, so while the loss is almost infinitesimal, in fact, not able to be measured, yet there is some loss going on from the discharge of the rays. The same property of liability of burns is always noticed in radium. Carrying a minute quantity in a glass vial in the pocket has caused a fortnight later a deep and painful sore on the body which required weeks to heal. The same precaution, i. e., lead foil that was recommended for the x rays is necessary for radium rays. The sensation of light is perceived through the closed eyelid, which is not due to the eye seeing the light but due to the phosphorescence set up by the rays, passed through the liquid and through portions of the eye. The rays that are absorbed by materials other than radium itself lose their property after a greater or less period of time, depending partly on the kind of substances and partly on the action of the air. If lead has been exposed to the action of radium and then sealed up, it loses its power of discharging rays very much slower than lead which has been freely exposed to the air. Radium does not lose its power on exposes to the greatest degrees of glow; on the other hand, intense heat causes sudden discharge of rays with corresponding loss of light, which, however, is renewed within two or three days if allowed to rest. The same class of medical cases that the rays have been used for have been the subject of experiment by radium. In cancer and other diseases which have their origin in the growth of germs it has been hoped that the influence of radium rays would modify their course, and it is true that many patients have had no relapse for some months after treatment; whether a permanent cure can be announced it is yet too early to say. The mode of treatment by radium consists in enclosing a small portion of radium between two metallic sheets, one of copper, the other of aluminum with the aluminum face downward upon that portion of the body which is to be treated, and an exposure of fifteen minutes a day is allowed for a period extending over weeks or months. Although radium is present in such minute quantities, it is nevertheless widely distributed in America. It is found in a mineral known as carnolite which is abundant in Utah. In Texas a quantity of earth always gives up a small amount of radium. Abroad, in certain of the mountains, especially in the region of Saxony, radium has been extracted from the by products of the silver ores. Two other substances, namely polonium and actinium, were discovered at about the same time with radium. Their difference from the others is comparatively nothing, except greater or less brilliancy and the color of their rays.

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