Dave Fornell, ITN Editor
Dave Fornell, ITN Editor

Dave Fornell is the editor of ITN and DAIC magazines

Blog | Dave Fornell, ITN Editor | X-Ray | December 21, 2015

X-ray Has Come a Long Way in 100 Years

Left, the first X-ray ever made of Roentgen's wife's hand in 1895. Right, a cone-beam CT 3-D reconstruction of a hand in 2015 using a new robotic digital radiography (DR) X-ray system.

Left, the first X-ray ever made of Roentgen's wife's hand in 1895. Right, a cone-beam CT 3-D reconstruction of a hand in 2015 using a new robotic digital radiography (DR) X-ray system. 

Being an avid student of history, I am always looking for parallels and comparisons in everything I see. For this reason, I was very struck by the latest X-ray technology displayed at the 2015 meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) in December. Being in its 101st annual RSNA meeting, and the 120th anniversary of the discovery of X-rays, you would think that there is not much new in regards to X-ray technology. However, one of the images included in a Siemens press kit for their new robotic X-ray room technology, for me, brought the world of radiology full circle from its inception more than a century ago, to the bleeding edge of medical technology today.

Two weeks after Wilhelm Roentgen first discovered what he termed as X-rays in 1895 (he used the mathematical “X” to describe something unknown), he produced the first X-ray image of his wife’s hand. This image was the first medical imaging photo published in the first scientific article on medical imaging in December 1895. The breakthrough technology rapidly revolutionized medicine and earned Roentgen the first Nobel Prize in physics in 1901

Being the symbol of the birth of radiology and modern medical imaging, this image of Roentgen’s wife’s hand was the first thing I thought of when I ran across an image of a cone-beam computed tomography (CT) 3-D reconstruction of a hand created by Siemens' new Multitom Rax robotic X-ray system. The comparison of hand X-rays now and then is a simple comparison of how far X-ray technology has advanced, from a fuzzy image of phalanges to a surgical, photo-quality view of the bone.

The Multitom Rax room installed system uses two robotic arms to precisely align the X-ray tube and detector panels in any position. It is designed to be an all-in-one X-ray room solution for conventional 2-D radiography, fluoroscopic exams, basic angiography applications and to create 3-D cone-beam CT images. The cone beam CT technology uses a series of X-rays shot in an arc around the patient to collect a volume of data, similar to a CT scanner collecting a volume of data through a series of scan slices. The computer can then post-process the cone beam dataset into 3-D image reconstructions. 

Up until recently, dedicated X-ray systems were used for specific types of X-ray applications such as angiography, CT, digital radiography or fluoroscopy. This is likely the first X-ray system to be able to fulfill all of these imaging applications (at least on a basic level) using one platform. Cone beam CT created from a series of X-ray images previously found a niche in the cath lab, where newer C-arm systems can perform a rotational angiography spin around a patient and a 3-D image of the anatomy can be created tableside for use as a guidepost to landmark anatomy not visible on angiography alone. 

Cone beam CT is used for advanced dental imaging and as onboard 3-D imaging on some radiation therapy treatment systems. It is now finding a new niche in orthopedic imaging as a less expensive, lower-dose and immediately available option, rather than separate X-ray and CT exams. Carestream adapted its cone beam technology commercialized for the dental market to a larger system aimed at the orthopedics market at a fraction of the cost of a CT scanner. The new system was displayed for the first time at RSNA 2015. 

For more on the latest digital radiography (DR) X-ray technology, visit the landing page with videos and articles "Technology Report: Digital Radiography (DR)." 

Watch a video on some of the most innovative new imaging technology at RSNA 2015. 

Related Content

The global X-ray devices market is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 5.14% from a market size of USDX10.793 billion in 2019 to a market size of USD14.580 billion by 2025

Getty Images

News | X-Ray | August 07, 2020
August 7, 2020 — The global X-ray devices mark
Versatile, future-proof digital imaging unit scales to meet growing technology needs of customers
News | Digital Radiography (DR) | August 06, 2020
August 6, 2020 — Carestream Health has launched its...
Ghost imaging approach could enable detailed movies of the heart with low-dose X-rays

Researchers developed a high-resolution X-ray imaging technique based on ghost imaging that can capture the motion of rapidly moving objects. They used it to create a movie of a blade rotating at 100,000 frames per second. Image courtesy of Sharon Shwartz, Bar-Ilan University

News | X-Ray | August 06, 2020
August 6, 2020 — Researche...
New Medical Imaging and Data Resource Center will aid AI development and medical advancement to battle COVID-19

Getty Images

News | Coronavirus (COVID-19) | August 05, 2020
August 5, 2020 — The nation’s largest medical imaging associations are working together to develop the new Medical Im
Mobile CT scanner reimagines head imaging of critically ill patients by enabling patients and staff to remain in ICU
News | Computed Tomography (CT) | August 05, 2020
August 5, 2020 — The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has cleared the...
Imaging volumes in hospitals and practices previously slowed by the coronavirus pandemic continue to hold steady, according to new QuickPoLL survey results that gauge how radiologists feel about current business and the impact of COVID-19.
Feature | Coronavirus (COVID-19) | August 03, 2020 | By Melinda Taschetta-Millane
Imaging volumes in hospitals and practices previously slowed by the coronavirus pandemic continue to hold steady, acc
Siemens AG is continuing to rigorously execute its Vision 2020+ strategy and therefore expressly welcomes Siemens Healthineers AG’s acquisition of a 100 percent stake in Varian Medical Systems, Inc., a U.S. company active in the area of cancer research and therapy.

Getty Images

News | Radiology Business | August 03, 2020
August 3, 2020 — Siemens AG is continuing to rigorously execute its Vision 2020+ strategy and therefore expressly wel
Franco Fontana, CEO of the Esaote Group, and Xie Yufeng, Chairman of WDM.

Franco Fontana, CEO of the Esaote Group, and Xie Yufeng, Chairman of WDM.

News | Digital Radiography (DR) | July 31, 2020
July 31, 2020 — In the thick of the COVID-19 eme
A World Health Organization (WHO) rapid advice guide on the use of chest imaging in the diagnosis and management of COVID-19 was published in the journal Radiology.

Getty Images

News | Coronavirus (COVID-19) | July 30, 2020
July 30, 2020 — A World Health Organization (WHO) rapid advice gui
 The Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) has been awarded a $750,000 grant by the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to develop a Global Learning Center (GLC) in Sub-Saharan Africa. The grant will help address the growing need in Sub-Saharan Africa for training in radiology.
News | Radiology Education | July 28, 2020
July 28, 2020 — The Radiological Society of North America (RSNA)