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X-Man: 1941

Jan. 11, 1941. "Triboro Hospital for Tuberculosis, Parsons Boulevard, Jamaica, New York. Fluoroscopy room with technician." The doctor will see through you now. 5x7 acetate negative by Gottscho-Schleisner. View full size.

Jan. 11, 1941. "Triboro Hospital for Tuberculosis, Parsons Boulevard, Jamaica, New York. Fluoroscopy room with technician." The doctor will see through you now. 5x7 acetate negative by Gottscho-Schleisner. View full size.


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Get the lead out!

The radiologist, by 1940, would be wearing a lead apron and gloves, I would imagine, when doing a fluoroscopic examination of a patient. That would reduce the rads he'd otherwise absorb. The poor patient, however, would take it all.

Does anyone remember the x-ray machines in shoe stores, where you could actually see and wiggle your toes in the shoes, to make sure there was plenty of room? They were fluoroscopes as well, and outlawed before 1955, I think.

A cool picture.

Double Xposure

What's not seen is the X-ray exposure not just for the patient but for the physician. Back then, during a fluoroscopy (not a filmed X-ray) the radiologist was in the path of the X-rays. The X-ray tube, patient, fluorescent screen, and physician were in a line. The X-rays from the tube went through the patient and struck the screen, which the physician viewed from the other side. One fluoroscopy screen is visible at the back right of the photo. The physician got a smaller X-ray dose than the patient but still got a dose -- for every fluoroscopy of every patient. Thomas Edison invented the first commercially-available fluoroscope screen, but stopped working on it when a lab assistant died of cancer and Edison himself suffered eye damage. Nowadays the system would use digital sensors and an electronic viewing screen, and the physician receives no X-rays.

re: High-voltage distribution

The power comes from behind the angled wall on the left. The silver tubes above are electric buss work. The black tubes hanging from the ceiling are insulators, perhaps Bakelite. It appears that the power is fed to all three x-ray devices, with buss work feeding directly into the "stand-up" device.

High-voltage distribution

I think the power comes in from the floor above, through those two dark-colored rods that the meters are on. The power then goes back, away from the camera, and forks left and right. The left side goes to maybe a high-voltage capacitor, only partly visible at the top left. The right side turns and comes back towards the camera.

I think that complicated thing with all the horizontal rods, above and to the right of the gauges, is a switch, operated by the pull cord hanging from its left side. It can send the incoming power to the cabinet at the back right, the thing on the pole at the right, or to the bed/table in the foreground.

Returning to the meters, on the left one I can just make out "FILAMENT CURRENT - A.C. AMPERES", and a range of 3 to about 6 amps. The right big meter is harder to see but I think it's 0 to 200 milliamps. The right little meter I'm not sure about - it might be a 0 to 50 milliamp meter, to help measure smaller currents than the 0 to 200 mA one. The pull cords hanging from the meters might select which meter is active. All of these meters help show how much current is going to the X-ray tube in the selected device; this is related to how strong the emitted X-rays are.

Modern X-ray machines still have these meters (peek at the one at your dentist's office sometime), but they no longer have to pipe high voltage around the room. It's relatively easy to make a small module that turns 120 volts into the thousands of volts needed, so the module can live right next to the tube. All (or almost all) of the control gear is solid state, but the main X-ray source is still a tube.

Looks state-of-the-art

for 1941. Can you imagine what they could have done with today's imaging equipment?

My old neighborhood

I grew up about six blocks from there. Passed it every day for three years walking to high school.

Beautiful machinery!

Anyone have any info about who manufactured this lovely stuff?

Building is still there, for now

News story here.

WOW Granny

What big gauges you have.

Dangling Dials

Behold medicine in the pre-digital age.

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