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The shoe fitting fluoroscope (called pedoscope in the UK) first appeared in US shoe stores in the 1920's, and by the 1950's approximately 10,000 units were in use across the USA, 3000 in the UK and 1000 in Canada. The units allowed the customer's feet to be viewed within the shoes, supposedly to ensure accurate fit. However, they were mostly regarded by sales staff as little better than a gimmick, and their popularity waned. Most US states banned the machines in the 1960's, and their use ceased in the UK by 1970.
The frightening thing was the amount of radiation used for each exposure. According to the show "Engineering Disasters" on History Channel, the exposure from a typical machine was 20 to 75 rems (or 200 to 750 mSv) per minute. That is to be compared with the current maximum allowed occupational exposure to workers in nuclear power stations in the USA of 5 rems (50 mSv) per year and 20 mSv (2 rems) per year for classified radiation workers in the UK. Whilst customers were unlikely to have been adversely affected by using the machines, countless shop staff are likely to have suffered the results of excessive exposure to radiation.
Scary stuff, but not as scary as what the Pumas are likely to do to Scotland on Sunday...
>Scary stuff, but not as scary as what the Pumas are likely to do to Scotland on Sunday...
Everyone knows Scotland will loose with their usual grace.
Shoe store fluoroscopes were typical of the careless and in some cases frivolous attitude toward X rays that prevailed for decades. A fluorescent image of the feet was reflected to three viewing ports at the top of the x ray cabinet, where the customer, the salesperson, and a third person usually accompanying adult could gaze with wonderment at the foot sitting in the new shoe. Tres space age. These remained in vogue for well over 40 years, but are nowhere to be seen now. Where did they come from, and perhaps more importantly where are they now? By the end of the nineteenth century medicos in the military were befuddled by a new disease, which affected servicemen leaving them crippled and unable to march. The condition was called Pied Force. Doctors were taken with a new technology involving X-rays and set to investigate the mysterious foot injury that had been endemic in all infantries. They soon discovered it was a subtle fracture of the second metatarsal bone caused by prolonged marching (March fracture). Once they understood the cause they could treat soldiers already injured as well as prevent new cases. By the end of the Great War however there was a large surplus of Army portable X-ray units. Keen to sell these off, the surplus industry found the ready to wear shoe sector, eager customers. The shoe-fitting fluoroscope was thought to be developed around 1924 by Clarence Karrer while he worked with his father, selling surgical supplies and x-ray equipment. After building and selling several to shoe manufacturers and retailers, he was asked by the Radiological Society of North America and some radiologists to stop because it "lowered the dignity of the profession of radiology." Karrer complied, but another of his father's employees quit the company and patented the device. The primary component of a shoe-fitting x-ray unit was the fluoroscope which consisted essentially of an x-ray tube mounted near the floor and wholly or partially enclosed in a shielded box. When feet were stuck in they struck the fluorescent light and an image of the feet inside the shoes was seen through the view boxes. Curiously they had buttons marked "Man", "Woman" and "Child" but the radiation dosages were all equal. The machines were often out of adjustment and were constructed so radiation leaked into the surrounding area. By the 50s radiation hazards associated with shoe fitting x-ray units were recognized and concerns for safety from exposure to radiation grew until by the sixties these were banned in many places and regulated in others. The kV would have been on the lower end and emitted radiation only occurring when the electric current was applied. This would not be acceptable by today's standards, many experts believe there was no actual radiation risk. Studies suggest cases of radiation-induced leukemia tend to peak 7-15 years after exposure. So it is likely anyone exposed to radiation via the foot0scope as a child and still alive with no symptoms has passed the critical stage. Those most at risk were the salespeople, who were exposed to radiation on a daily basis but there apears to be no evidence to support associated death and disease.
Oh Flower of Scotland, when will we be beaten again!
Basal cell carcinoma of the sole: possible association with the shoe-fitting fluoroscope.
Smullen MJ, Bertler DE. WMJ. 2007 Aug;106(5):275-8.
Basal cell carcinoma of the sole is very rare. This report describes an occurrence in which a basal cell carcinoma may have developed in relation to radiation exposure from a shoe-fitting fluoroscope. The obvious limitation is that there is no record or means to measure any amount of radiation that a person may have received from this primitive fluoroscope. We conclude that radiation very likely did induce this lesion in this individual.
Prohibition — Fluoroscopic X-ray shoefitting devices.
The operation or maintenance of any X-ray, fluoroscopic, or other equipment or apparatus employing roentgen rays, in the fitting of shoes or other footwear or in the viewing of bones in the feet is prohibited. This prohibition does not apply to any licensed physician, surgeon, *podiatrist, or any person practicing a licensed healing art, or any technician working under the direct and immediate supervision of such persons.