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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Discuss the uses and drawbacks of X-ray imaging
  • Identify four modern medical imaging techniques and how they are used

For thousands of years, fear of the dead and legal sanctions limited the ability of anatomists and physicians to study the internal structures of the human body. An inability to control bleeding, infection, and pain made surgeries infrequent, and those that were performed—such as wound suturing, amputations, tooth and tumor removals, skull drilling, and cesarean births—did not greatly advance knowledge about internal anatomy. Theories about the function of the body and about disease were therefore largely based on external observations and imagination. During the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, however, the detailed anatomical drawings of Italian artist and anatomist Leonardo da Vinci and Flemish anatomist Andreas Vesalius were published, and interest in human anatomy began to increase. Medical schools began to teach anatomy using human dissection; although some resorted to grave robbing to obtain corpses. Laws were eventually passed that enabled students to dissect the corpses of criminals and those who donated their bodies for research. Still, it was not until the late nineteenth century that medical researchers discovered non-surgical methods to look inside the living body.


German physicist Wilhelm Röntgen (1845–1923) was experimenting with electrical current when he discovered that a mysterious and invisible “ray” would pass through his flesh but leave an outline of his bones on a screen coated with a metal compound. In 1895, Röntgen made the first durable record of the internal parts of a living human: an “X-ray” image (as it came to be called) of his wife’s hand. Scientists around the world quickly began their own experiments with X-rays, and by 1900, X-rays were widely used to detect a variety of injuries and diseases. In 1901, Röntgen was awarded the first Nobel Prize for physics for his work in this field.

The X-ray    is a form of high energy electromagnetic radiation with a short wavelength capable of penetrating solids and ionizing gases. As they are used in medicine, X-rays are emitted from an X-ray machine and directed toward a specially treated metallic plate placed behind the patient’s body. The beam of radiation results in darkening of the X-ray plate. X-rays are slightly impeded by soft tissues, which show up as gray on the X-ray plate, whereas hard tissues, such as bone, largely block the rays, producing a light-toned “shadow.” Thus, X-rays are best used to visualize hard body structures such as teeth and bones ( [link] ). Like many forms of high energy radiation, however, X-rays are capable of damaging cells and initiating changes that can lead to cancer. This danger of excessive exposure to X-rays was not fully appreciated for many years after their widespread use.

X-ray of a hand

This photo shows an X ray image of the palmar surface of the left hand. The bones appear bright white against a gray outline of the skin of the hand. The four segments of the finger bones are clearly visible, as well as the collection of round bones that compose the wrist and connect the hand to the two bones of the forearm.
High energy electromagnetic radiation allows the internal structures of the body, such as bones, to be seen in X-rays like these. (credit: Trace Meek/flickr)

Questions & Answers

The diagram of the human body
Rasheedat Reply
what is agriculture?
Maror Reply
Is a branch of sciences that deal with the study of plant and it species
Agriculture can be defined as the cultivation of crops and rearing of animals for man's use
what's the functional unit of the kideny
Oyebode Reply
urinary tubule
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Lorna Reply
functions of physiologist
moses Reply
pathophysiology of pneumonia
Jane Reply
what is anatomy
Ejiofor Reply
The study of the body parts
Study of structure of living things eg humans
how many bones do the human being has
An adult has 206 bones.
study of the function of the body parts
definition of community case of desase ?in malaria,thyphus, cholera,
Yes In children is 270 But adult is 206
physiology is the study of functions of body structures
describe the distinctive functional types of lymphocytes
what's anatomy
Fetia Reply
it is the scientific study of human body structures.
It is the study of human structure
is the study of human structure
Can someone identify to me the types of sciatic nerves
What's ovulation ?
godknows Reply
Ovulation is the release of eggs from the ovaries. In women, this event occurs when the ovarian follicles rupture and release the secondary oocyte ovarian cells.
Ovulation is the release of eggs from ovaries
how long vagina is
Antony Reply
approximately 10 cm
Muscle is a connective tissue
Benard Reply
you're right intramuscular connective tissue formed by the 3 layers of the muscle
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what muscles
Rukayya Reply
what is anatomy
Ayomide Reply
is the study of body parts
Anatomy is a science that deals with the study of human parts and animals.
Anatomy is the study of the branch of biology concerned with the structure of the organisms and their parts
what is a kidney
Sailuba Reply
The kidney is an organ whose function is primarily for excretion of extra fluids as wastes.
Yeah your collect
and ions e.g potassium, sodium, phosphates etc
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what is physiology
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i think its the study of all of the processes in a living thing and how they relate to eachother.
Hello scholars
hi friends what is heart
heart is hollow muscular organ responsible bumping of blood our body
what is muscle and the type
muscles is acontractile tissue found in animals
types of muscle are three smooth muscle cardiac muscle and skeletal muscle
what is the difference between microscopic and macroscopic
Sofeme Reply
Microscopic mean the use of microscope during investigation of sample & macroscopic means observing by using eyes (physically)

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Source:  OpenStax, Anatomy & Physiology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 04, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11496/1.8
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