What medical discovery has completely revolutionized the field


Actually, Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen just wanted to marvel at a well-known experiment with electromagnetic waves. But what the professor discovered in his laboratory on that November day 125 years ago revolutionized the world - and not just in medicine.

It is November 8th, 1895. In a laboratory in Würzburg, Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen experiments with electrical discharges in a cathode tube that has been pumped almost empty of air. When this and further away another tube shine, the professor becomes curious. The glow remains visible even after the beam has been interrupted by means of a board. In further experiments he found out that the accidentally discovered X-rays, later renamed X-rays in his honor, penetrate almost everything - including his wife's hand. The image of this hand was probably the first X-ray image of a human body part. Areas of application Whoever hears X-rays often thinks directly of medicine. And not without reason. After all, X-rays have become an indispensable part of medical diagnostics. The discovery even led to an entirely new branch in medicine: radiology. However, a lot has changed over time. Instead of blurred-looking black and white images of the human skeleton that could only be interpreted by a few doctors, today's ultra-modern machines take high-resolution, sometimes three-dimensional images of patients. And when it comes to interpreting the images, radiologists are increasingly receiving support from digital assistants. "In this way, we can often detect the smallest tissue changes before the onset of the disease," explains PD Dr. Lukas Lehmkuhl, Head of Radiology at the RHÖN-KLINIKUM Campus Bad Neustadt.

But X-rays have also become indispensable in many other areas. In the food industry, for example, they help to check the filling of packaging and detect possible contamination. At airports they screen our hand luggage and archaeologists can use them to look into chests without having to force them open. Danger from X-rays As helpful as X-rays are, they are not entirely harmless. Therefore one should not expose oneself to this radiation unnecessarily. "However, the radiation exposure of modern medical devices is reduced to a minimum," says Dr. Lehmkuhl. In addition, medical devices are regularly checked for functionality and safety by experts.

CONTACT Secretariat of the Clinic for Diagnostic Radiology Chief Physician Priv.-Doz. Dr. med. Lukas Lehmkuhl Tel. 09771 66 23900


  • Who doesn't have it yet, who wants to do it again: taking X-rays used to be an attraction at public events such as folk festivals.
  • Fits perfectly: Until the 1960s, so-called pedoscopes were used in shoe shops. With the help of the X-rays, customers could check whether a shoe fits perfectly.
  • For a good cause: Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen never wanted to profit from his discovery and therefore did not apply for patents.
  • Excellent: Röntgen received the first Nobel Prize in Physics for his discovery of X-rays.


X-ray During an X-ray examination, the body is x-rayed. This is a quick, reliable, and proven way to diagnose bone injuries such as fractures. With the additional use of contrast media, soft tissue and organs filled with air or gas such as the lungs can also be examined. Computed tomography (CT) CT scan is a more detailed x-ray examination in which patients are pushed into a tube. By continuously moving the X-ray source and its receiver around the patient, three-dimensional sectional images of bones, organs and tissue are created. This makes tumors, but also inflammations, bruises, swellings and broken bones clearly visible. Magnetic resonance tomography (MRT) An MRT, also known as magnetic resonance tomography, uses magnetic fields and radio waves to generate sectional images of the body, which are then put together to form a three-dimensional image. For example, cartilage or ligaments can be seen very well. Since the method does not use X-rays, it is also suitable for pregnant women and children. Sonography To examine internal organs such as the liver, thyroid gland or the abdomen, an ultrasound examination (sonography) is usually carried out. The doctor moves a transducer over the skin over the part of the body to be examined. Since the ultrasonic waves are harmless, they are also used to examine babies in the womb, for example.