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Tin of 'Horlicks X-ray Shadow Meal', England, 1938-1950

Bones show up easily on an X-ray but soft tissues such as guts and intestines hardly show at all. To improve the quality of the X-ray, what is known as a contrast medium is used. This is intended to improve the detail of these otherwise barely visible structures. For example, after a patient drinks a solution of barium sulphate, the guts show up as an opaque white colour in subsequent X-rays. To make the liquid easier to drink, it was sometimes flavoured with the popular malted milk drink Horlicks. Barium sulphate is still used today to improve contrast in X-ray images.

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Glossary: x-ray contrast medium

No description.

Glossary: x-ray photograph

An internal image of the body that is produced by exposing a photographic plate to X-rays.

Glossary: tin - can

Can made of tin plated metal, usual iron or steel.

Glossary: contrast media

A contrast media is introduced into a patient's body to improve the detail of barely visible structures during an x-ray, e.g. the intestines.