Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1959.13/806845
- A short history of the origins of radiography in Australia
- The University of Newcastle. Faculty of Health, University Department of Rural Health
- At the time of Röentgen's discovery of X-rays, Australia was in a period of social transition. Federation under a centralised Australian government was at hand, while regional population centres were growing rapidly under various influences, such as the gold rush of the 1850s, the opening up of new pastoral land and the Great Drought of the 1890s. Reports of Röentgen's discovery first appeared in Australian newspapers towards the end of January 1896. The first limited description of his experimental techniques appeared on the 15th February, arousing excitement in the antipodean scientific community. Independent attempts were made to produce X-ray images at several locations in Australia, the necessary apparatus being widely available. Three men have been separately credited with having been the first to produce a radiographic image using the techniques described by Röentgen. Thomas Rankin Lyle, a Professor at Melbourne University performed a demonstration on the 3rd March 1896, X-raying a colleague's foot. The image was reproduced in the newspaper the following day. Lyle also performed a pre-surgical foreign body localisation on 12th June. Meanwhile, electrician and amateur scientist, Walter Filmer, produced a radiograph at Newcastle, also to localise a needle prior to surgical removal. Although the date of this examination is uncertain, it reportedly took place within days of the 15th February newspaper story, making it both the first successful attempt at radiography and the first medical use of X-rays in Australia. Filmer was later appointed to Newcastle Hospital as honorary ‘X-ray operator’. The third was a catholic priest and Science Master at St Stanislaus' College at Bathurst in western New South Wales, Father Joseph Slattery. On 25th July 1896 he X-rayed the hand of a former student to locate gunshot pellets, saving the hand from amputation. All three men were remarkable for their scientific knowledge and ability and all are deserving of the title of early Australian X-ray pioneer. This paper tells each of their stories.
- Radiography Vol. 15, Issue Suppl. 1, p. E42-E47
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