The X Factor in X-rays
New innovations in radiology have sparked public criticism as to its safety and cost-effectiveness. Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen's discovery of the X-ray in 1895 and its subsequent use in medicine sparked similar safety and health hazard concerns throughout its development.
Thousands of scientists, doctors, radiographers and nurses from around the world and with an interest in radiology met in June this year at the Rontgen's Centenary Congress in Birmingham to celebrate Professor Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen's discovery of the X-ray in Germany on November 8th, 1895.
Today, modern radiological practice is multi-disciplinary. The order of magnitude of radiation received by professional radiation workers is many times less now than at the start of the century. Clinicians talk animatedly about new interventional radiological procedures that are taking the place of surgery, while new imaging systems give patients greater hope that their cancers can be detected earlier and with greater accuracy.
However, cynicism about the progress of the discipline is never far from expression in the media, with concerns about clinical outcomes to certain treatments, or the cost- effectiveness of certain screening programmes regularly debated. The X-ray is invisible and, since it cannot be seen, a suspicious public often considers it malign – and history shows us the public's suspicions were sometimes justified.