Revision of the 2002 Medical and Dental Guidance Notes, a good practice guide

Author(s): Mr John R Saunderson

Hospital: Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust

Reference: RAD Magazine, 43, 504, 33-34


It was not long after the discoveries of x-rays by Wilhelm Röntgen in 1895 and of radioactivity by Henri Becquerel in 1896 that both the incredible usefulness and the not insignificant hazard of these new wonders began to be appreciated by the scientific and medical world. In the very early years, stories abounded of skin injuries associated with exposure to x-rays. One of the earliest published cases was that reported by Professor John Daniel of Vanderbilt University. A child had been accidently shot in the head, and Daniel was asked if the new x-rays could be used to locate the position of the bullet. The dean of the medical department Dr William Dudley volunteered to be a guinea pig so that the correct exposure could be determined, and the experiment was undertaken on the February 29, 1896. Unfortunately, despite a one-hour exposure, Daniel was unable to obtain a satisfactory image. Three weeks later a two inch (50 mm) bald spot appeared on Dudley’s head. Daniel speculated that some form of quasi electrical current may have been generated in the hair, causing this depilation, and reported: “We, and especially Dr Dudley, shall watch with interest the ultimate effect.”

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