The skin dose of pelvic radiographs since 1896

Gerrit J. Kemerink*, Gerhard Kutterer, Pierre J. Kicken, Jos M. A. van Engelshoven, Kees J. Simon, Joachim E. Wildberger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objectives: To derive conversions of antiquated exposure data into modern equivalents and to apply these in the assessment of the skin dose of pelvic radiographs since 1896.

Methods: The literature 1896-2018 was searched for implicit and explicit dose information. The early implicit dose data contained now obsolete descriptions of radiation quality and quantity for long since disappeared X-ray systems of limited efficiency. Converting the old information into modern specifications was achieved using contemporary data and computer simulations. Final dose calculations were done with modern software. Explicit radiation doses of later date reported in old quantities and units were adapted according to current recommendations.

Results: For the period before 1927 conversion algorithms for spark gap data and penetrometer hardnesses to high voltage could be derived. Electrical and X-ray efficiencies of several old rontgen systems were determined. Together they allowed reconstruction of 53 doses. After 1927 doses were generally explicitly specified; 114 were retrieved. Although an enormous spread was observed, the average skin dose was reduced by a factor of about 400.

Conclusions: Antiquated exposure data were successfully used for dose reconstruction. Extreme dose variability was a constant. Efforts to cut down doses were effective as skin doses went down from sub-erythema values to about one milligray.

Original languageEnglish
Article number39
Number of pages12
JournalInsights into Imaging
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 29 Mar 2019


  • History radiology
  • First X-ray systems
  • Early dosimetry
  • Pelvic radiography
  • Dose reconstruction


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