When Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen discovered the x-ray in November 1895, he investigated it thoroughly, testing its ability to penetrate various inanimate objects and observing its effects on fluorescent screens and photographic film. He gazed in amazement at the image of the bones of his own hand as he al-lowed the new rays to penetrate his flesh. He made a photo-graphic x-ray image of a hand (reportedly his wife’s) and sent prints of it together with his paper describing the new phe-nomenon to a carefully selected list of scientific colleagues.
By mid-February 1896, Roentgen’s paper had not only been published but also reprinted in other scientific journals includ-ing the American journal Science. Scientists everywhere re-peated Roentgen’s simple experiments and confirmed the truth of his discovery. Within a year, x-rays were in widespread use for medical purposes—chiefly for imaging of the skeleton.
Since Roentgen’s time, many new imaging techniques have been developed that allow radiologists to see the muscles and other soft tissues of the musculoskeletal system as well as the bones and to evaluate the amount of metabolic activity in the bones and soft tissues. These techniques make skeletal imag ing an exciting area of radiology that can enhance patients’ quality of life. The techniques can also be very expensive, how-ever.