Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen accidentally discovered x-rays on November 8, 1895. The world was changed forever after the news of the discovery was released. On February 3rd 1896, Eddie McCarthy broke his wrist on a pond while ice skating. An x-ray of his fractured wrist was made. It was the first medical x-ray taken in the United States. Despite this early episode, the use of x-rays in medical diagnostics was slow to catch on. That’s because not much was known about the appearance of various diseases on x-rays. This all changed in the early 1900’s when professional photographers, fascinated by the x-ray images they saw, began to attend medical school to learn about diseases. They wanted to become “Roentgen Photographers”. The specialty of Radiology and Medical Imaging was born. Over the years, as experience and knowledge grew, x-ray imaging (and Radiologists) became a standard part of the medical and surgical work-up of sick and injured patients.
In 1897, the Vienna Veterinary College was the first veterinary college to obtain x-ray equipment. Fifteen years later, every US veterinary school had x-ray equipment. But in the 1930’s only a few private small animal practices used x-rays. From 1937 to 1945 numerous publications on small animal diagnostic radiology found a receptive audience. Veterinarians began to use x-ray imaging more routinely on their patients. Pet owners were expecting it. The specialty of veterinary radiology in the US evolved over time. In the early days, interested veterinarians had to train in radiology at human medical schools. Since then the specialty of veterinary radiology has evolved. The American Board of Veterinary Radiology was formed in 1960. In 1962 they began to certify veterinarians who had advanced training in radiographic imaging. Currently the American College of Veterinary Radiology (ACVR) has over 200 diplomats. In addition to 4 years of veterinary school, another 3 years of clinical training in an approved veterinary radiology residency program (usually at a university) is required. Board certification in veterinary radiology is achieved only after completing the residency and passing a rigorous examination. Mastery in all aspects of diagnostic imaging (x-ray, ultrasound, CT, MRI , and nuclear medicine) must be shown before board certification is granted.
Today the practice of veterinary medicine is becoming more complex. Family veterinary practitioners often utilize the services of a radiologist for second opinions on x-rays or to do more specialized tests such as out patient ultrasounds or CT’s or MRI’s. Other veterinary specialists like Board Certified Medical Internists and Surgeons often utilize the services of a radiologist. Information gained from medical imaging is invaluable to those who manage your pets’ health problems. Next time you hear the word radiology just think of medical imaging. It’s not just about x-rays anymore. It’s about Imaging.
Compliments of Robert L. Toal DVM, MS, Dip ACVR: SouthPaws Diagnostic Imaging Center, (703) 569-0300.