Chair of Radiology Home   
  • HISTORY from 19th to 21th century

       The first mention of the discovery of X-rays in the Polish territory (at that time Poland was partitioned into German, Russian, and Austrian zones; Kraków was at that time in the Austrian zone) appeared in Kraków's daily "Czas" of January 8th, 1896 It started with the words "sensational discovery" and the authors referred entusiastically to the first information about Roentgen's discovery published just a few days earlier in Vienna's daily "Presse" on January 5th, 1896. In a short article in "Czas" there was general information on how the rays were generated, their basic physical properties and hypothetical application. Almost immediately it was noticed that "although this looks like a joke, it is taken seriously by reputable circles". A few days later, on January 12th, "Czas" published many more details of the discovery and the technique of using the new rays.
       On the basis of the information, Karol Olszewski (who was the first in the world, together with Zygmunt Wróblewski, to liquefy air) repeated Roentgen's experiment. He acquired the equipment necessary for producing X-rays and soon films were taken successfully of different items including a human hand. A report of his experiments appeared in "Czas" on January 21st, 1896. (GIF 5).
       From the preserved reports of the experiment that were carried out written by Dr. Tadeusz Estreicher and Dr. Drozdowski (prof. Ostrowski's assistant) we learn that in the experiment by Prof. Olszewski air was pumped out from Plucker's, instead of Crooker's, tube using Toepler's pump, and that current was generated by an inducer.

"...A photographic plate inside a closed cassette on which a massive wooden box with platinum and brass loads were put, was inserted inside a bag made of thick back cloth, and the whole package was exposed to rays produced by the equipment mentioned. After a long (nearly two hours) exposition Prof. Olszewski developed an image on the plate, which in spite of being faint, did occur. A picture of the bronze load in the shape of a lizard was equally good, also across the wooden bar of the photographic cassette..."

       The picture of the bronze load in the shape of a lizard and the picture of Dr. Tadeusz Estreicher's hand taken at the same time have been preserved.
       Dr. Drozdowski's comment on the picture of the hand was as follows:

"...Olszewski took this Roentgen picture immediately after the discovery of the rays and just a few days after the announcement of the fact by daily newspapers. He constructed a Roengen's tube, of course a very primitive one, that was powered by electric current from a small inductor that was available at the moment, and experimented a couple of hours. Air was being pumped during the experiment and the vacuum was improved by Toepler's pump..."

According to the documents that have been preserved so far it follows that in his laboratory Prof. Olszewski took successfully a number of pictures using X-rays, while the first radiograms were taken just after the 8th of January. This allows us to assume that these were the first Roentgen pictures taken in Poland. Most certainly there was the picture of the metal paper load among them, the first Polish radiogram. On the other side of the picture there was the following inscription:

"...First Roentgen film made in Poland, Cracow by Prof. Olszewski."

       At the beginning of February 1896, a professor of surgery, Alfred Obaliński made a decision to use X- rays in practice. His decision followed the admission of a patient with traumatic swollen elbow to his Department of Surgery. In order to find the cause of the symptoms an X-ray examination was made by Professor Olszewski, his assistant Dr. Estreicher, and Dr. Siedlecki. The test radiogram of the elbow joint of a healthy patient was taken. Having found out that in the order to obtain a radiogram two and half hours' exposure was necessary, the first film of a patient with suspicion of the luxation of the elbow joint was taken. The X-ray examination confirmed the suspicion. This fact was reported in "Czas" of 11th February, 1896. The first medical raport of the first clinical X- ray examination made in Cracow was published in "Przegląd Lekarski" (publication of Medical Societies - Cracow and Galicia) No 95 (22.02.1896). The first Polish scientific radiological article "Diagnostic application of X-rays" was written by Professor Obaliński. This building housing the Chemistry Department has been preserved until now, and it is known as Wróblewski Collegium.
       The first radiograms and the first clinical X-ray examination were made at the (GIF 11) Chemistry Department (GIF 11) of the Jagiellonian University, the Head of which was Professor Olszewski.
       Professor Olszewski was the first Pole to successfully obtain radiograms preserved until our times, and in this way he set the origin of the Polish radiology. Soon the decision was made by the medical society to introduce X-ray examinations to the clinical practice.
       The first radiological laboratory was opened in February 1896 (it was the first X-ray laboratory in Poland) - in the building of the University Medical Clinic, in Kopernika Street No. 7 (nowadays housing the Department of Biochemistry of the Jagiellonian University Medical College). It was dr Walery Jaworski (1849-1924), subsequently a Professor of the University Medical Clinic, who organized this laboratory. He was one of the first physicians all over the world who used X-rays in the clinical practice of internal medicine. 16.06.1897 at the meeting of the Cracow Medical Society he demonstrated his experiments - for instance a radiological examination of patients with heart enlargement, changes in the aorta and with stones in the gallbladder. This lecture was recognized as the beginning of the Cracovian Radiological School. The research works of Professor Jaworski carried out with the use of contrast media (water with carbon dioxide administrated in to the stomach by a catheter) were of great importance. As a result it soon became possible to show a picture of an hourglass stomach. The outcomes of all the experiments were published in "Przegl±du Lekarskiego" No 34 and 35 (GIF 15) from 21st and 22nd August 1897 and in the handbook "Outline of pathology and therapy of the stomach" by Profesor Jaworski. The first Radiological Laboratory worked with a primitive equipment by the staff themselves construction until 1900, when a professional equipment of Reiniger-Halske Company (at present the medical section of Siemens Medical Company) was purchased.
       The first Polish handbook of radiology on the "X-rays and their application in diagnostics and therapy" by Dr. M. Nartowski was published in 1900 in Kraków.
       In 1913 Laboratory was moved to the St. Lazarus Hospital (it has remained in that place until 21th century)and it obtained the status of the Department of Radiology. Dr. Barbara Korabczyńska, who devoted her career to that work was its head. The works of Professor Jaworski were continued by his former students Professor Jan Nowaczyński (1885-1925) and Dr. Karol Mayer (1882-1956). Dr. Mayer was the author of the original work "Radiological differential diagnosis of the diseases of the heart and the aorta with the consideration of own methods", published in 1916, where he included the elements of tomography, unknown at that time. He worked under the supervision of Professor Jaworski, and in 1925 he was appointed the Head of the Radiology Department of the Poznań University, and soon became the first Polish Professor of Radiology.
       Since 1949 Dr. Jerzy Chudyk (jpg 23) was the Head of the Radiology Department. In the same year he organised the Congress of the Polish Medical Society of Radiology.
       In 1951, after the reform of higher medical education, the Faculty of Medicine in Kraków, the oldest one of the Jagiellonian University was separated and the Medical University was created instead. The Department of Radiology of the University Hospital was founded in March, and the Chair of Radiology in September, 1951 with Dr. Chudyk, since 1954 a Professor, as its Head. The Department was modernised and the research-didactic-diagnostic unit was created. The succesor of Professor Chudyk was Dr. Elżbieta Jarosz, the Head of the Department after his death.
       Prof. Stanisław Januszkiewicz (jpg 24) was the head of the Department and Chair of Radiology between 1957 - 1973. He was the author of the handbook "General radiological diagnostics – student's handbook".
       In June 1964 Professor Januszkiewicz organised in Kraków the XXII Congress of the Polish Medical Society of Radiology. After he retired in 1973, his duties were taken up by Dr. Halina Naturska-Targosz.
       Since 1975, the Head of the Chair and Department was Professor Olgierd Billewicz , until he moved to Gdańsk in 1988. During that period modern angiographic and interventional laboratory was created and computed tomography and ultrasound techniques were introduced.
       The XXXI Congress of the Polish Medical Society of Radiology took place in Kraków on June, 1986. Professor Billewicz, the organiser of the Congress, was at that time elected the President of the Main Board of the Society. Dr. Andrzej Urbanik, an assistant in the Department, was appointed the Secretary of the Board.
       Professor Józef Ku¶miderski became the Head of the Chair and Department of Radiology in 1988. He was at the same time the Head of the Neuroradiology Department (since 1974).
       Under his supervision, the plan of creating a new seat of the Radiology Department in 50 Kopernika St. was developed and the construction works started. The 2nd Congress of the Polish Medical Society of Magnetic Resonance was organised by Professor Ku¶miderski in Kraków on September 1996. The Congress celebrated the centenary of the Polish Radiology whose origin has to be traced in Kraków. On that occasion a jubilee exhibition was organised in the Jagiellonian University Museum - "Pioneers of Cracow's Radiology - one hundred years".
       In 1998, after Professor Ku¶miderski'e death, his duties were taken over by Dr. Andrzej Urbanik (jpg 27) who was appointed the Head of the Chair of Radiology of the Jagiellonian University Medical College and the Head of the Radiology Department of the University Hospital. In the years 1998-2000 the MR laboratory building was finished and the main building housing the Chair and Radiology Department in 19 Kopernika St. was fully modernised and modern equipment was provided.

Chair of Radiology Home   
Copyright © 2001 Computer Center JU Medical College, Cracow, Poland. All rights reserved
Report any problems to: