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May 23, 1931


JAMA. 1931;96(21):1749-1753. doi:10.1001/jama.1931.02720470003002

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The discovery of roentgen rays and radium came at a time when the development of surgery, made possible by the revelations of Pasteur and their successful application by Lister, was in full swing. It is but natural, therefore, that the first utilization of the discovery should have been in relation to surgery. Moreover, since the most striking feature of roentgen rays is their power to penetrate tissues in proportion to their density, it is not surprising that surgeons should have realized the significance of this new and invaluable method of studying the skeleton and its diseases. For a short time such investigation occupied medical attention exclusively and led to observations which amazed equally physicians and the public. Within a few months, however, it became obvious that, besides the uncanny property of traversing tissues and affecting the sensitive emulsion of a photographic plate, the rays also had a potent and destructive

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