Trailing the Invisible Light: Discoveries in Imaging Illustrate the Body's Interior
No marriage has worked quite as well as the union of urology and radiology. With the introduction of X-rays by German professor Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen on Nov. 8, 1895, physicians had a non-invasive tool to survey the urinary tract. Other technologies—ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)—would eventually shine in their ability to delineate organs, diagnose disease and determine treatment, but nothing changed the medical landscape quite like the notion of a penetrating invisible ray that could show the body's interior. Röntgen called them "X-rays" because of their unknown origins; others identified them as high-energy, electromagnetic radiation. Physicians eagerly embraced the discovery and set out to shed light on the body, particularly the urinary tract. Curiously, a Scottish otolaryngologist, John Macintyre, would make the first radiograph of a kidney stone in a patient on April 2, 1896.