Rontgen Rays and Renal Calculi: Exploring the British Pioneers of Urological Imaging
BAUS ePoster online library. Gordon G. Jun 25, 2019; 259560; P6-6
Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
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Kidney stones were one of the first pathologies investigated by James McIntyre, the Glaswegian credited as one of the early pioneers of radiology. The work of McIntyre is widely recorded and discussed in historical literature. Although calculi composed a relatively minor proportion of his study, his recognition of the potential for the modality inspired others. This research aims to extend understanding of early renal imaging beyond McIntyre.


Primary sources from 1896-7 including McIntyre's original report and research from urologists James Swain and Henry Morris form the basis of this study. This historical research was directed and informed by an appropriate review of the secondary literature, namely the History of Urology (Lewis et al., 1933) and Urolithiasis: A Comprehensive History (Moran, 2013.)


When initial cadaveric investigations proved promising, urologists quickly utilised imaging for clinical application. Swain is often overlooked in the historical discourse. However, his comprehensive findings on the topic retains relevance even to the modern practitioner. His work, backed by Morris, detailed the suitability of imaging for varying types of stone, the clinical indication for imaging and the potential for the therapeutic use of x-rays.

Readily adopted by urologists, x-ray imaging is difficult to attribute to just one pioneer. Multiple urologists rapidly appreciated its utility and quickly adopted a consensus position. Swain's and Morris' original imaging will be reproduced in poster form for the conference audience. Early urological x-ray imaging provides excellent ground for further historical research, articles and biographies.
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