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Chest photofluorography

Last revised by Daniel J Bell on 9 Mar 2023

Chest photofluorography, also known as mass miniature radiography, is a form of diagnostic imaging known as fluorography, applied to the thorax. Historically it was used for mass screening for pulmonary tuberculosis, but became obsolete in the mid-1970s.

The imaging technique consisted of recording a miniature photograph of the screen of x-ray fluoroscopy of the thorax. Documentation was usually through standard 35 mm or 70 mm photographic film. 


This technique has had multiple names across multiple countries, including abreugraphy, chest photofluorography, mass chest radiography, mass chest radiophotography, mass miniature radiography, miniature chest radiography, roentgenfluorography, radiophotography, photoradioscopy, photofluorography, and schermography 1,2,4.

History and etymology

The radioscopic screen image photography method had several precursors. It only came to practical fruition with the work of Manoel de Abreu (1892-1962), a Brazilian physician. In July 1936, he presented to the Brazilian Society of Tuberculosis a novel technique of photographing a fluoroscopic image and producing small images of the thorax quickly and in large volumes, which he called roentgenphotography. He was the first to establish this new method of investigation for mass radiography of the chest in the fight against tuberculosis 1-4.

Due to the increasingly stringent radiation protection guidelines, public health workers became concerned about the population-wide exposure of populations to the procedure, with questions raised about its cost-benefit 1. The health authorities of most countries discontinued this examination during the early 1970s. In 1974, the World Health Organization (WHO), in its ninth report of the Committee of Experts on Tuberculosis, categorically ruled against the continued use of mass abreugraphy 1.

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