Radiating Hope: Radiology Department Blog


Radiology Through the Years

Post Date: November 7, 2014
Radiology Through the Years

International Day of Radiology (IDoR) is Saturday, November 8. The date marks the anniversary of the discovery of the x-ray. It’s a time for us to applaud our accomplishments, focus on the good work we want to continue doing, and say “thank you” to each other for all the hard work and dedication we show when caring for every patient and family. It’s also a time to reflect on where we’ve been so that we can get a clearer picture of where we’re going.

For over a century, radiology and medical imaging have been an essential part of our medical care. In the 119 years since Wilhelm Rontgen first discovered a strange new phenomenon he called “x-rays,” the technology has changed the way we practice medicine.

Rontgen recognized that this new ray could pass through most substances including human tissue, casting shadows of solid objects like bones or metal. Rontgen reported his discovery in December 1895 (which included an x-ray of his wife’s hand), and within 2 months the first pediatric use to diagnose a broken arm was reported. Within the first 6 months of the discovery of this new x-ray technology, surgeons were using it on the battlefields to locate bullets in wounded soldiers.

While x-ray pictures are still being taken, medical imaging now uses many different techniques to detect the smallest of tumors, guide the removal of a blood clot in the brain, or help understand the functioning of vital organs like the lungs, kidneys or heart.



X-rays, or radiographs, were first made onto glass photographic plates but have since evolved into using film for the images and, most recently, digital computer systems. Other methods of making medical images like ultrasound and nuclear medicine were first introduced in the 1950’s, while CT and MRI developed in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

Doctors using radiology technology have been around since its first introduction. Technologist certification has existed since 1922 and the American Board of Radiology was founded in 1934 to certify physicians, ensuring the training, quality and safety of those professionals involved in imaging care.


The Department of Radiology at Cincinnati Children’s has a long and proud history, starting with its first chief of Radiology Dr. William Doughty in 1907. Dr. Frederic Silverman was one of the pioneers of pediatric radiology, and his tenure as Radiologist-in-Chief from 1947-1975 raised Cincinnati Children’s reputation as a leader in this field. He made major contributions to medical professionals’ awareness of child abuse and emphasized the role of radiology for early detection and definitive diagnosis. He believed in education and established a strong curriculum for training pediatric radiology fellows. His legacy is still felt today in the Radiology Department at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

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Under the current leadership of Dr. Brian Coley, 37 radiologists working in radiography, fluoroscopy, ultrasound, CT, MRI, nuclear medicine, and interventional radiology provide the best clinical care for your child. We are also leaders in pediatric imaging research, developing and discovering new ways to utilize imaging in the diagnosis, treatment and care of children. The Radiology Department is home to over 300 employees all working toward the same goal–to be the recognized leader and clear choice for pediatric imaging care.

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About the author: Alex Towbin

Alex is a radiologist and the Neil D. Johnson Chair of Radiology Informatics. In this role, he helps to manage the information systems used by the Radiology department. Clinically, Alex is the Assistant Director of thoracoabdominal imaging. His research interests include liver disease, liver tumors, inflammatory bowel disease, and appendicitis.