Edison’s Big X-Ray Machine Ready for Use
Ablest Experts in the World Are Here, but the Operation
May Fail to Locate the Bullet.
The X-ray machine, asked for by Secretary
Cortelyou and provided by Thomas A. Edison, arrived at the Milburn
home yesterday morning at 10:40 o’clock, having been received but
a few moments before over the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western
Railroad. The apparatus, which consists of at least 30 different
packages, including extra Crooke’s tubes, fluoriscopes [sic] and
coils, was transported in an ordinary express wagon and along the
route attracted much attention. People craned their necks and ran
into the street to get a glimpse of the wonderful electrical machine
that may be used in an attempt to locate the anarchist’s bullet,
and many were the fervent prayers that it may perform its duty well.
At the corner of Delaware Avenue and
Ferry Street the wagon drew alongside the curb and the soldiers
and police, always watchful to prevent any noise in the vicinity
of the Milburn house, ordered that it proceed no farther. A detail
of ten soldiers, who were then on relief, were employed in transporting
the machinery to the house. It was carried to the rear door and
deposited in the kitchen, where it was set up yesterday afternoon
and tested and everything found to be in order. Dr. H. A. Knoll,
chief surgeon of the Hudson Street Hospital, New York, and an expert
in the employment of the X-ray in surgery, accompanied the machine,
and from all that can be learned will operate it today. He will
be assisted by several men from Edison’s laboratory in Orange, N.
J., some of whom arrived yesterday afternoon, and others will arrive
this morning. Upon unpacking the apparatus yesterday afternoon is
[sic] was found that 6-inch coils or conductors were all that had
been shipped, and for the work required of it 10-inch coils are
necessary. There are but few of these in existence, but one will
be forthcoming in time for use today.
Dr. Knoll Predicts Nothing.
Dr. Knoll, when interviewed by a
REVIEW representative, was very reluctant to talk and refused absolutely
to discuss probable success or failure of the apparatus to locate
“We will do our best,” said Dr. Knoll.
“We realize what an important duty we are called upon to perform
and assure the public that we will strain every effort as we never
have done before. The matter, however, is not clearly outlined at
present and is in no shape to discuss. In fact we do not even know
whether we will use the machine at all. We are simply here and out
apparatus is here in case we can be useful[.]”
Dr. John T. Pitkin of No. 206 Connecticut
Street, an eminent physician and a man whose reputation as an operator
of the X-ray apparatus is widespread, was interviewed on the matter
yesterday afternoon. Dr. Pitkin’s statements are highly interesting,
but must be acknowledged are not encouraging in the extreme.
“The use of the X-ray, or rather the
successful use of it, in our President’s case,” said Dr. Pitkin,
“depends entirely on the location of the bullet and the strength
and power of the apparatus. I understand that the most powerful
and complete machine in existence was received this morning at the
Milburn home. With this apparatus the operation may be successful.
“The first condition that is to be
considered a hindrance to the success of the operation is the girth
of the President. He is a very large man, especially through that
part of the body in which the bullet must be located. Fat is a non-conductor
and it is questionable whether a machine, powerful enough to locate
the bullet and still not burn the body, can be obtained. Even after
getting the location of the bullet it will be difficult to photograph
it in such shape that the surgeon will be able to make his way to
it at once. The fluorimeter [sic] must be used, a machine for the
purpose of dealing with shadows and distances. It is a most complicated
and sensitive machine and exceedingly accurate, but it may not be
able exactly to record the location of the bullet in the President’s
The Process Described.
“What process must be gone through
with in case the X-ray is used in locating the bullet?” was asked
by the reporter.
“First, a sensitive plate, a plate
far more sensitive than the photographer’s plate, must be placed,
under the body in this case, inasmuch as the article to be removed
is near the back. The Crooke’s tubes are then placed over the body.
The distance of the tubes from the body is a very important matter.
If the tubes are placed too close to the body what we call ‘ray
burning’ must result. If the distance is exactly determined, however,
the photograph may be taken with ease with no more preparation than
this described. In this case the fluorimeter [sic] must be also
introduced. The photograph might be taken and the bullet apparently
located, and in spite of this the surgeon might not be able to extract
it. It is a case where photographs even may lie. The photograph,
unless the fluorimeter [sic] is used, will record the bullet according
to the angle in which the light penetrates the body.”