Indian Head X-Ray Reflector (ca. 1955)

This nasty device, an intra-oral fluoroscope,  was invented in the mid 1950s by a New York city dentist and marketed as the "Indian Head X-Ray Reflector" by the Union Broach Company.  In effect, the inventor took the all too familiar dental mirror and replaced the circular mirror at the end of the handle with a fluorescent screen. Approximately 5,000 were distributed before the State of New York forced a halt to their production. 

With the room as dark as possible, the dentist would place the circular fluorescent screen in the patient's mouth behind the teeth to be examined. The patient would then hold the device in place while the x-ray beam was turned on (and left on). The x-ray image of the teeth would show up on the screen with "no waiting for x-ray pictures . . . no developing of negatives."

As a guess, the rather considerable doses to the patient's head might have been 10 to 20 rad.

Size:  8 1/2" long,  circular screen 1 1/2" in diameter 

Price: $5.00 1" diameter screen; $7.50 1 1/2" diameter screen; $10.00 2" diameter screen 

An almost identical device was described in the July 1904 issue of the International Dental Journal by Sinclair Tousey. Quoting Tousey, the dental fluoroscope: "is shaped somewhat like a dental mirror or laryngoscope, but instead of a reflecting has a fluoroscopic surface on both sides, so that either the side toward or away from the x-ray may be looked at. It is placed in the mouth, and the room being darkened, the x-ray tube is placed near the side of the face. The image of the teeth and roots and even the structure of the jaw 1/2 inch beyond the apex of the roots shows very well. . . . . But a prolonged study of the fluoroscopic image is as dangerous here as elsewhere. The study of the detail should always be from the radiograph." In the photo caption for the device, Tousey noted that "its use is extremely dangerous to the operator and has been abandoned by the author."

Donated by Ron Kathren

References:

Ron Kathren. Personal communication.

Brochure for Indian Head Reflector. No date.

S. Tousey. Medical Electricity and Rontgen Rays. W.B. Saunders Co.1921. 

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Last updated: 05/10/11
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