December 1996


Arch Surg. 1996;131(12):1348. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1996.01430240102017

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The first American medical text to describe and evaluate Wilhelm Roentgen's (1845-1923) momentous discovery was William Morton's (1846-1920) and Edwin Hammer's The X-Ray or Photography of the Invisible and Its Value in Surgery (1896). Morton was professor of diseases of the mind and nervous system and electrotherapeutics at the New York Post-Graduate Medical School and Hospital. Hammer, his collaborator, was an electrical engineer. With its only clinical chapter concerning x-rays and their use in surgical diseases, the work also contains 32 halftone photographic plates of radiographs. Appearing less than 1 year after Roentgen's original paper of 1895, it was not unexpected that the first and most appealing clinical use of x-rays was for the location of foreign bodies prior to their removal by a surgeon.

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