Sunday, 12 January 2014

X-ray Vision

While in Papua New Guinea I had the opportunity to take and develop a number of x-ray images. It was one of many fascinating and challenging tasks we were faced with on the trip and provided the added bonus of feeling like a proper Walter White while mixing the developer and fixer chemicals in the cramped dark room.

One interesting application of these skills was in attempting to perform a static equivalent of a barium swallow. The image below was taken while we were trying to work out which of the 2 containers of barium would be more suitable. It was captured shortly after shaking both bottles.

Ideally, we wanted as much of the oesophagus to be visible in the static barium swallow image. We opted for the barium on the right, as it appears to leave residual radio-opacity over the surfaces which it came into contact with when shaking. The left-hand barium would likely only show us where the bolus of swallowed barium was at the instant of imaging and thus was expected to provide much less useful information.

Another exciting discovery was the abundant supply of radio-opaque metal letters, which could be placed beside the focal object to add extra information such as the direction of imaging or position of the subject. Naturally, I used them to write my name then irradiated my hand.

Now to wait for my super powers...

I may never have the opportunity to take my own radiographs again but at least I can sleep soundly knowing I did not waste the opportunity. And I don't have arthritis.

I did not think
I investigated.

Wilhelm Röntgen