Buckys then and now, always the benchmark for effective imaging

It’s a good thing Gustav Bucky’s name lives on in radiography, because he never got the riches he deserved for his life-saving inventions.

All radiographers know what a “Bucky” is: a bucky houses many components of the imaging chain that help create the latent image used to create a radiograph. . If you don’t have a clinical background, bet you don’t know the story of two inventors who lend it their names. They raced simultaneously toward the same discovery, with a world war raging and new economic forces pressuring everyone.

Both inventors were in 1880: Gustav Bucky in Germany and Hollis Potter in Wisconsin. Both men had access to higher education, and chose the medical field. Both also had intense curiosity, about every aspect of their work, including the devices they used to treat patients.

In 1896, X-rays were discovered. In those early days, they took several minutes, and the X-rays absorbed by the patient caused a blurred image that detracted from clarity. Since the invention diagnostic x-ray became known, physicians struggled to filter out those secondary particles, called scatter radiation, which obscured the latent image.

By 1903, it was theorized that a metal grid placed between the patient and the X-ray plate would block most of this scatter radiation.

Ten years later, Bucky invented a system of two plates with grids. One plate would be placed between the X-ray beam and the patient, and the other was placed between the patient and the film. The grids ensured that only the waned x-ray photons – the primary beam would reach the film rather than the scatter radiation. The “Bucky diaphragm” which housed this anti-scatter grid reduced the blur, but caused prominent grid lines to appear on the films. He got a German patent on the system.

Across the pond, and because a world war was going on, Bucky didn’t know that in Chicago, at the same time, American radiologist Hollis Potter was working on his own way to eliminate both scatter radiation and grid lines.

Due to the war, Bucky never published his work. In 1915, Potter presented his innovation at a national conference.

The large-scale use of X-rays during World War I meant that the new technology was standard practice in regular medicine after the war. The war inspired new applications, such as the radiographic examination of lung diseases, and sharply increased the business competition around the new technology. But by the early 1920s, neither the Potter nor the Bucky grid had come into popular use.

Bucky had patented his device in both the U.S. and Germany. However, after World War I, forfeiture laws affected citizens of the Central Powers, including Germany, and Bucky lost the rights – and the riches – of his patent. Potter picked up on the opportunity, and by 1921, the General Electric Corp. was marketing the “Potter grid.”

The U.S. market enthusiastically welcomed the grid. Eventually, the marketplace began to reflect the contributions of both men, and advertising references are seen to both titles, “Bucky-Potter” and “Potter-Bucky.” Around the office now, people just call it “the bucky.”

From this inventive beginning, the bucky cabinet has become standard piece of the imaging chain. It has continued to progress technologically, and the name now refers specifically to a drawer-like device found underneath the equipment, that the cassette and grid is slid into before shooting x-ray. The stability of the setup improves the image.

Reina Imaging’s new Rightfit Bucky System takes that technology to the next level. The Rotating Bucky System is an ideal in-room solution to reduce detector drops when transitioning from the table and wall equipment. It provides constant DR panel protection, another safety net for costly FPD. With this new system, you can take the worry out of a fast-paced radiographic environment and protect your detector all the time.

The suite of products in the Rightfit Bucky System will keep your detector safe and secure with the Rightfit Mobile DR Panel holder. Our one-piece polycarbonate construction, Twin-Lock™ double lock design, and Air-Ride™ corner protection technology provide peace of mind against impacts, and an economic “insurance policy” for your expensive mobile DR panel.

The table and wall grid cabinets are built for seamless integration with, and allow for easy rotation and loading. Contact Reina today about improving your workflow with our extensive line of custom products and accessories. We’re writing the next chapter in the amazing story of how imaging saves lives.


‘Bucky vs. Potter ‘, Inventing Europe,