Already during the First World War, mobile X-ray machines were used in military hospitals, which greatly helped to detect metal fragments or bullets that fell into the body.
At first, the new invention caused only delight, and in the 1900s, in articles on the medical topic, they wrote that soon doctors would use X-rays as simply as a stethoscope and a thermometer. However, a sobering up soon set in – some doctors were too carried away by the newfangled toy, and their patients “grabbed” an extra dose of radiation.
So in Paris a certain patient Z. was treated by a doctor H. for facial neuralgia. The doctor, investigating the problem, in one day exposed the patient to X-rays 10 times. As a result, the next day the patient felt bad. The right side of his head was irradiated, because of this, his right eye was swollen, and the right side of his head became bald.
The injured patient filed a lawsuit. The case was heard in early 1901 in the 4th chamber of the Paris civil court. Whether the patient won, I don’t know, but I believe that they did not know how to treat radiation sickness then, and the symptoms point to it, so the fate of the overexposed patient is sad.
X-rays turned out to be a very cunning assistant to the doctor. The work of a radiologist entailed the risk of cancer for him. And the patients should have been more careful. However, the ability to detect a bullet or splinter in the body of a wounded and to see in advance, before the operation, exactly how the bone broke, made it possible to save many lives.
How can X-ray methods help a doctor? X-ray allows to carry out non-invasive examinations of the state of internal organs, to detect in the early stages all kinds of tumors, lung lesions, clarifies the position of bones in case of fractures and dislocations.
What types of X-ray examinations are there?
- We all know fluorography, it is customary to do it once a year to check the condition of the lungs. With fluorography, an image is obtained on the screen, which is photographed on a special film.
- Exist radiography – the image is fixed on a special film by direct hit of X-rays.
- Apply fluoroscopy, in which an image of an organ appears on a fluorescent screen.
- When digital fluoroscopy the image is recorded on a digital medium.
- During electroradiography the picture is fixed on special plates, from which it is transferred to paper.
- Very helpful CT scan, in which a three-dimensional model of the subject is created – his body is scanned many times, and as a result, many, many “slices” are recorded on a digital carrier, giving an idea of the internal organs of a person.
How often can X-ray examinations be performed?
The normal annual dose of radiation received by a person is approximately 2.3 mSv (millisievert), although, say, in Altai, the natural background is 10 mSv, and people live there too.
With simple chest fluorography, a person receives about 0.5 mSv, and there is a rule to perform fluorography no more than once a year.
- When fluorography, depending on which organ is translucent, the patient receives from 0.5 to 2.5 mSv. The highest dose is obtained with fluorography of the pelvic organs.
- With different types radiography the patient receives from 0.2 to 1.6 mSv (the highest dose is when the intestines are scanned).
- With different types fluoroscopy the patient receives from 3.3 to 20.0 mSv (when the organs of the gastrointestinal tract are scanned).
- When computed tomography the patient receives from 2.0 to 14.0 mSv (when scanning the gastrointestinal tract).
How dangerous is the use of X-ray diagnostic methods? If you know the measure and do not neglect safety precautions, then there is almost no danger to health. And the benefits are undeniable.
It should be remembered that not only the diagnosis of the body with the help of X-rays carries the danger of radioactive exposure. For example, a flight on an airplane gives about 0.002 mSv per hour, but only one scan on the scanner gives 0.001 mSv. For passengers, this may not be very significant, but for pilots who fly many hundreds of hours a year, this means at least twice the level of radiation exposure compared to ordinary people.
So everything is relative, everything needs a measure. But the benefits of X-ray diagnostics in maintaining health and saving lives are very great.