Gustav Bucky

Last revised by Daniel J Bell on 19 May 2022

Gustav Bucky (1880-1963) was a German-born, American radiologist who pioneered the development of anti-scatter grids in projectional radiography with his invention, the Bucky diaphragm.

Gustav Peter Bucky was born in the city of Leipzig, Germany on 3 September 1880 2,3,5. He had a keen interest in engineering, however following pressure from his parents he chose to study medicine. Gustav completed his medical studies in both Geneva and Leipzig where he developed an interest in the use of Roentgen rays in the medical setting 2

One of the primary difficulties in obtaining diagnostic quality images of thicker portions of the body was scatter as the x-rays passed through the body. This would result in suboptimal radiographs that were often blurry. In 1913, Gustav Bucky developed a grid system with x-ray absorbent material such as lead arranged in the form of a lattice. When placed between the patient and the film, the primary x-rays would pass through the holes of the lattice, whilst the scattered rays would be absorbed by the criss-crossing strips of the grid. His invention improved image quality but did result in an intrusive grid artifact on the image. Gustav patented this design in the USA and Germany. Within a couple of months of his first patent being granted, Bucky had developed a moving grid for which he was granted a German patent.

In 1920, Hollis E Potter, an American radiologist independently conceived an oscillating grid that would alleviate this troublesome artifact.

None of the early designs were entirely successful because of the use of a latticework construction. Potter found through experimentation that the use of parallel strips produced radiographs that were virtually as good as were obtained with the hitherto grid design 4

Henceforth the system became known as the Bucky-Potter grid, a system that is still used in radiography today. Ironically, the product is neither a grid nor a diaphragm!

Gustav Bucky moved to the USA in 1923 and only a year later reviewed an honorary medical licence (the 7th man in history at the time). He moved back to Germany in 1929 where he was head of the Radiology Department at the Rudolf Virchow Hospital, only to move back to the USA in 1933. During this time, Bucky formed a close friendship with Albert Einstein, with whom he held a self-adjusting camera patent. 

He passed away on 19 February 1963 at the age of 82, in New York City. 

  • the anti-scatter grid is still used in radiography to this day

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