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By Narissa Subramoney

Deputy digital news editor

World Radiography Day: The X-ray turns 126 years old

Radiography plays a crucial role in the diagnosis and treatment of patients.

Today is World Radiography Day, which marks the anniversary of the discovery of X-rays on 8 November 1895 by German scientist Wilhelm Röntgen.

Röntgen was working with cathode rays using evacuated glass bulbs. He noted that when a current passed across the bulb, a barium platino-cyanide screen fluoresced and furthermore he noted the effect of the phenomenon on photographic plates.

He termed this new discovery “X-rays”, further noting that he was able to see through the body. Within three months of Röntgen’s discovery, radiographs were generated in major cities.

Radiography plays a crucial role in the diagnosis and treatment of patients. Radiographers are not only healthcare professionals but radiation workers as well.

They ensure that radiation is kept to a minimum while still improving the quality of patient care.

They are trained in anatomy, physiology, pathology, physics and patient care, allowing for a multifaceted approach toward caring for patients.

This year’s theme is “Interventional Radiology – Active care for the patient”. The theme aims to remind everyone about the essential role that interventional radiology plays in treating patients.

World Radiography Day 2021 will also look at challenges the healthcare sector faced amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

All radiographers in South Africa are required to be registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA).

The profession of radiography is vast, with radiographers performing examinations on patients throughout their initial hospital visits, diagnosis, treatments, and follow-ups. 

Radiographers were on the front lines of the pandemic, working closely with potential and confirmed SARS-CoV-2 patients.

Some of the examinations performed by radiographers include:

  • General and trauma X-rays
  • Mobile radiography
  • Theatre screening for surgery
  • Angiography
  • Cardiac catheterisation
  • CT scans
  • MRI scans
  • Fluoroscopic studies
  • Ultrasonography
  • Mammography
  • Nuclear medicine
  • Radiation therapy

“The profession and field of radiography is one that is rapidly advancing, with new technologies constantly pushing the limits of what is possible in medical imaging,” said assistant director of radiography at Tygerberg Hospital Bardene Dreyer.

“New advancements have ensured that radiography has evolved from the basic X-rays that everyone is familiar with, into high resolutions scans, and even physiological imaging of brain chemistry using functional MRI,” Dreyer added.

NOW READ: Tough guy Dean Elgar: ‘X-rays are a waste of money’

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