The discovery of a bullet lost in the wrist by means of roentgen rays: Robert Jones

Landmark Case Report
Case Report
10.1102/1470-5206.2014.L002
14
L3-L4
The discovery of a bullet lost in the wrist by means of roentgen rays: Robert Jones

In 1896, Robert Jones submitted the first publication reporting a radiograph of a bullet seen inside the human body. A 12-year-old boy shot himself in the left hand ‘‘just above the left palmar arch’’. The bullet, a lead pellet, could not be found on enlarging the wound and it was ‘‘thought injudicious to prolong the search’’ given the ‘‘important structures in the vicinity’’. Professor Oliver Lodge used Roentgen rays to image the wrist and the bullet was clearly identified at the base of the 3rd metacarpal. It was thought to be sitting in the articular surface between the base of the 3rd metacarpal and the capitate, or ‘‘os magnum’’ as it was referred to. At the time it was quoted as being the first radiograph, or photograph, of a bullet embedded in a wrist. Before the Roentgen ray, this child would have either required extensive exploration or the foreign body would have been left in situ. The chosen imaging technique and outcome would not differ between what was published in the Lancet on 22 February 1896 and what happens currently in 2014, 118 years on. The absorbed radiation dose of the Roentgen ray in this case in 1896 was 12,500–25,000 times greater than it is today.

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Editor-in-Chief

Frank Cross
Consultant Vascular and General Surgeon
The London Clinic, UK

Editors

Neil Barnes
Consultant Physician
Barts Health NHS Trust, London, UK
Ali Jawad
Professor of Rheumatology
Barts Health NHS Trust, London, UK

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