The arrival of X-ray technology

Monday, February 17, 1896

X-rays first made their appearance in Kingston on February 17, 1896, when the Weekly Whig reported that Captain John Bray Cochrane (1860-1946), Professor of Physics and Chemistry at the Royal Military College, had taken an x-ray image of the hand of Madame Emma Albani, a celebrated singer, as a demonstration.

Cochrane first applied the diagnostic power of the x-ray to a medical case in May of 1896. A patient named Miss Hooper had run a sewing needle into her palm, which subsequently became so swollen that physicians could not identify the location of the needle to extract it. Cochrane took two x-rays of the hand at RMC, each requiring 12 minutes of exposure, clearly identifying its location. Then, KGH surgeon Dr. R.K. Kilborn, was able to remove the needle.

Later that year, under Medical Superintendent Dr. James Third (1865-1925), KGH recruited Cochrane as the hospital’s first cathographer and acquired its own x-ray equipment. KGH became the second Canadian hospital to purchase x-ray apparatus for medical use and records suggest that patients travelled to Kingston from as far as Buffalo, New York to benefit from the technology.