Most of us will have some form of x-ray at some point in our life. Whether a childhood injury pointed to a potential fracture, or a lasting cough led to a lung scan, there are plenty of reasons why someone might end up having an x-ray or MRI. Yet, this somewhat modern technology is a convenience and privilege that has had an interesting past. The history of how x-rays and MRIs came to be is a fascinating one, and it’s a story that continues to evolve.
The medical imaging team at Servant Medical Imaging can bring you the professional service you need to get the answers you deserve. Our team is comprised of highly competent and trained individuals who are the brains and backbone of our state-of-the-art technology. See how radiology came to be in our blog, and schedule your next visit with Servant Medical Imaging!
Earliest Forms of Medicine
Part of what makes the journey into how x-rays and MRIs developed so intriguing is due to the earliest and most ancient medical practices. Medicine took a very, very long time to get to where it is today—and as anyone who’s had a frustrating medical experience could tell you, we’re still far from understanding all the intricacies and complexities of the human body. The earliest forms of medicine dealt with various maladies and illnesses in highly unique ways (or at least, unique by today’s standards).
Spirituality and Illness
In ancient human times, things such as a cold or a relatively mild sickness was treated in fairly similar manners as we do today. While people weren’t exactly drowning themselves in Nyquil or Vicks VapoRub, our earliest ancestors relied on herbs and different plants to provide relief.
The biggest difference came down to more serious ailments. The more severe afflictions were often thought to have supernatural origin, such as being possessed by a demon or having a curse placed by an enemy or a god who felt wronged. A method that was practiced in several cultures, across several continents, was called trepanning, in which holes were bored into the skull. No more than 5 cm across, these holes were thought to release the demon or disease from the body. In addition to trepanning, several other remedies often involved dancing, chants, music, and recommendations from earliest shamans to remove the evil from the body.
Towards the third millennia (BCE), the world started seeing a shift from viewing sickness as a paranormal. This wasn’t the case in every culture around the globe, and to this day, there are still cultures or indigenous tribes that have beliefs in the connection between physical disease being a representation of spiritual disease. In ancient Egypt, a man by the name of Imhotep was one of the first physicians. He started as a chief minister to a pharaoh, and eventually was regarded as a god of medicine.
In the 19th century, Edwin Smith was an American who studied ancient Egyptian science. His work led to the acquisition of the aptly named Edwin Smith papyrus, which was a copy of a medical treatise from 1600 BCE (the original is thought to come from 3000 BCE). As Britannica states, “It reveals the ancient Egyptians’ knowledge of the relation of the pulse to the heart and of the workings of the stomach, bowels, and larger blood vessels.” This coincides with our common knowledge of the ancient Egyptians and their religious practices. With mummification, holy priests would remove the organs and place them in special jars, showing a pretty functional knowledge of certain parts of the human body—although it should be noted that human anatomy was not intensely studied.
The Indus Valley
While the earliest physicians can trace roots back to ancient Egypt, the Indus Valley civilization (also referred to as ancient India) also invested much in the art of medicine. The Vedas were a text that was dedicated to providing references and resources regarding maladies and illness. Although Hindu beliefs prohibited from cutting open a body (thus limiting knowledge of human anatomy and exploration), earliest physicians were thought to “have had a good clinical sense, and their discourses on prognosis contain acute references to symptoms that have grave import.” In fact, many anthropologists argue that between 800 BCE to 1000 CE, a form of vaccination for serious diseases was implemented.
While x-rays were still a ways from being implemented, the Greeks and Romans set the stage for much of modern medicine. This was the era of Hippocrates, of whom the famous and still-used oath is named for amongst medical professionals. During this time period, some huge developments began to take place. For example, scientists started understanding that air enters the lungs, as well as the fact that blood flows through veins and arteries. This might not seem exceptionally important, but this connects back to information we still seek today. It’s even more incredible to note that these developments in understanding the internal workings of the human body were achieved without radiology, and that we still rely on this information today.
When considering western civilization and medicine, the Enlightenment can’t be overlooked. A period of vast scientific achievement, the Enlightenment brought a boom of knowledge that the world had never experienced before. Especially remarkable about this epoch in the middle of the 20th century was the development of technology. In the 17th century, primitive microscopes were constructed, which gave scientists the ability to study blood vessels and bacteria. Without the technological advancements of the Enlightenment, the foundation for the modern x-ray and MRI would never have been laid.
In our next blog, we’ll continue looking at the tides that began to turn the world of medicine into something more recognizable by modern-day standards. It’s strange to think about the convenience of our medical knowledge and technology, and how an illness or disease would have been treated drastically different in earlier millennia. Luckily for you, the team at Servant Medical Imaging can provide you with the assistance and expertise you need for MRIs and radiology. Contact our Tulsa imaging center today to x-rays, CT scans, ultrasounds, and so many other radiology services—we look forward to working with you!
The History of Radiology, MRIs, and X-Rays: Part II
Welcome back to our blog series regarding the history of radiology! In our first blog, we covered the early days of medicine, and how this essential part of life came to be. The shift from the religious to the scientific was a significant one, and had lasting impacts that laid the foundation for modern medicine.
Whether you need arthrography services, a bone density scan, an x-ray, MRI, or CT scan, our medical imaging center in the greater Tulsa area is your top choice for all radiology services. Our team of radiographers is comprised of incredibly talented and trained specialists, all of whom are dedicated to best serving you. Call Servant Medical Imaging to get started, or fill out a contact form at our site, and in the meantime, learn more about how radiology came to be!
The Rise of Technology
The scientific method contributed full force to the progressive developments of the 19th century. These were the days of Darwin and Mendel, of cell theory and pathology. And of course, a breakthrough in the realm of medical technology, with advancements and tools that continue to be utilized today. In 1815, the first stethoscope was invented René Laënnec, giving medical professionals everywhere a quick and easy way to check the heartbeat and aid in diagnosis. By 1874, a British scientist started studying electrical impulses of the brain, which later contributed to the modern electroencephalogram (commonly known as the EEG).
The technologies during the 19th century were vast and varied—and not only limited to the medical world. But in terms of medical advancements and the x-ray, these inventions and discoveries were on their way.
The Turn of the Century
By the very end of the 19th century, history starts to see immense change, in ways that have had lasting impacts in every form of life. In 1895, Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen discovered how to take x-rays, which more or less shocked the world. This was considered unbelievable by so many, and in fact, the New York Times first reported to it as an “alleged discovery of how to photograph the invisible.”
In 1898, Marie Curie and her husband Pierre discovered the element radium, which further contributed to the developments of x-rays as we know them today. Specifically, Marie Curie was able to separate radium from radioactive substances, which allowed for more detailed studies of the material.
This developed into x-rays, because the rays could pass through many surfaces—including the human body—and could cast shadows of solid objects. The discovery of x-rays eventually made its way into the medical profession, leading to more in-depth looks into the workings and mechanisms of the human body.
In today’s world, the x-ray is just one of many forms of radiology, all of which contribute to modern medicine as we know it. There once was a time when humanity thought illness and disease were supernatural phenomena, something that had to be cast away and that was brought on by evil forces. Nowadays, we know that disease and illness and bacteria are a part of life, but are something medical professionals and researchers work tirelessly to understand and manipulate. To think of the progression from our earliest ancestors, all the way to the invention of x-rays, is nothing short of marvelous.
The best part of these medical advancements can be found in the imaging services offered at Servant Medical Imaging. From arthrography to x-rays, from ultrasounds to bone density scans, MRIs, and CT scans, you can find the expertise and professionalism you deserve at our medical imaging clinic. Serving the greater Tulsa and Broken Arrow areas for over 25 years, our story is like that of modern medicine—dedicated to helping others, and being at the forefront of science and technology. Find everything you need in radiology services from Servant Medical Imaging—we look forward to working with you!