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X-Ray was initially discovered by German scientist Wilhelm Roentgen in 1895. Interestingly, that was the same year that modern Chiropractic was "discovered." (See Chiropractic History section for more information.)

x-rays1First X-Ray image       (it was Roentgen's wife's hand)

Roentgen would go on to win the first Nobel Prize in Physics for this discovery in 1901. *1895 was a fantastic year incidentally. Besides Roentgen and Palmer; Marconi invented the wireless (radio); HG Wells wrote "The War of the Worlds", and the Lumiere brothers made the first movie in history (cinematography).

Wilhelm Roentgen

X-Rays were so named because Roentgen simply didn't know what else to call them. These "X"-rays were mysterious to him because they could penetrate walls and doors. It was a completely new discovery. Nothing remotely like it had ever been contemplated before, much less written about. These "X"-rays could see through skin and muscle to visualize bone tissue in humans. He stumbled across X-Rays while investigating the properties of an early cathode ray tube which accelerated electrons. During an early experiment, he noticed a plate across the room coated with barium platinocyanide begin to fluoresce. Within a month he had discovered all the basic properties of X-Ray and published his findings in the Wurzburg Physico-Medical Society journal. By 1934, a chiropractor was the first to take a full spinal X-Ray.

It has since been discovered (see Rook, J. "Whiplash Injuries," Elsevier Science, 2003) that X-Rays are electromagnetic waves with wave lengths of less than 1/10,000 the length of visible light rays. It is precisely this very short wave length that allows X-Rays to penetrate relatively dense substances to produce images or shadows that can then be recorded on film or (now) hard drives. In the alternative, lead is one of the most molecularly dense materials known to man. It is this molecular density that makes lead a good material to shield and protect people and body parts from exposure to X-radiation. x-rays3 


Research and Publishing: Interestingly, several years ago, the prestigious medical journal SPINE published a study on the efficacy of X-Ray interpretation. Chiropractors who obtained their post-graduate degree in radiology (Diplomate of the American Chiropractic Board of Radiology- DACBR) were deemed the most proficient at reading X-Rays correctly, followed by medical radiologists. (Taylor, J., Clopton, P. et.al., "Interpretation of abnormal lumbo-sacral spine radiographs", SPINE, Vol. 20, N. 10, 1147-1153, 1995.


Dr. Haberstroh with Terry Yochum, DC, DACBR at an MCS conference.

The biggest selling book in the history of Lippincott-Williams-Wilkins medical publishers was written by two chiropractors. It is called Essentials of Skeletal Radiology,(Lippencott Williams & Wilkins, 3rd Ed. 2002) by Terry Yochum and Lindsay Rowe. Both of these men are chiropractors and DACBRs (we pronounce that acronym as Dac-Bar). This text caused a sensation when it came out originally in 1986 for two reasons: it was written by chiropractors and that it was so good. It is now required text at all chiropractic colleges worldwide and required by most medical colleges in North America. The book is in its 3rd Edition and is widely regarded as the best textbook ever written on skeletal radiology. I'm proud to say Linday Rowe, DC, DACBR was my radiology instructor at Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College. Both Terry Yochum and Lindsay Rowe are considered living legends in the chiropractic community. Yochum was taught by Dr. Joseph Howe at National Chiropractic College. When Dr. Howe passed away, Yochum assumed the mantel as the perhaps the top chiropractic radilogist in existence. Rowe was his brightest intern "Down Under" when Yochum was teaching in Australia back in the 1970's. Dr. Yochum was appointed to the faculty at the University of Colorado Medical School, Department of Radiology where he has remained for 13 years. 8 times he has been voted "Most Outstanding Teacher" there. He remains the first and only Chiropractor to be appointed to such a position. He continues to publish articles on radiology and is the only chiropractor in history to be invited to the prestigious Medical Radiology Conference to lecture.

Why X-Rays? Seeing the underlying framework of the body is crucial to chiropractors who treat a huge amount of postural issues like scoliosis, spine degeneration, simple back pain, facet syndromes, disc problems to say nothing of sciatica, upper/lower crossed syndromes, piriformis syndromes and other neuro-musculo-skeletal issues. A clear, concise "picture" of the spine gives any doctor a much better ability to accurately diagnose the problem and enhances treatment protocols and algorithms. Without X-Rays (or other imaging), the doctor would have to guess at aspects of a given case. Patients are occasionally concerned about ionizing exposure from X-Rays. While that is definitely a concern, read on below and find out what has been happening with X-Ray technology over the years . . .

Exposure Issues: X-Ray technology has improved drastically since it's inception but some aspects remain surprisingly similar to original technology. The X-Ray beam itself remains unchanged and the way it is generated is similar to how Roentgen first discovered it. The big area that has improved with technology is in the time it takes to expose a film. As recently as WW II, field doctors would need nearly 10 minutes of continual exposure to take a neck X-Ray; they would need nearly 40 minutes of continual exposure to take a low back view. As the ionizing effects of X-Ray became more well known, discoveries in "Intensifying Screens" greatly reduced the exposure of patients to these effects and sped up the process of X-Ray taking considerably.




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