Theodore B. Steinhausen, M.D., and his associates from the University of Rochester and the Strong Memorial Hospital (Rochester, New York) published this paper in the journal “Radiology” in 1944. Because of physician concerns regarding the toxicity of myelographic agents derived from vegetable oils this statement by Steinhausen:
was accepted, as gospel, by the medical community. In addition, this publication was reproduced in the text “Neurosurgical Classics” published in 1965 further attesting to the widespread belief that there was “no better contrast medium for myelography” than Pantopaque®.
This assurance of safety led to about 450,000 Pantopaque® myelograms being performed each year in the United States over a 40-50 year period. Only in Scandinavia were there serious doubts expressed regarding this contrast media.
It is of interest to note that the Steinhausen studies were aided by a grant from the Research Laboratories of the Eastman Kodak Company (the manufacturers of Pantopaque® at that time). It is of even greater interest to note that 6 months before Dr. Steinhausen’s study was presented to a radiologic society a neurosurgical colleague, from the same institution, gave a presentation to a neurosurgical meeting in New York and presented a dramatically different conclusion regarding the toxicity of Pantopaque® . Strong Memorial Hospital (now known as Strong Health), has been the primary teaching hospital of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. This hospital, in the 1940s, has been cited for carrying out extensive human experimentation studies in which life-threatening injections of plutonium were injected into unsuspecting patients (none of which were informed regarding the risks) and
performed without patient consent. Of further interest is the fact that, at the same time, a Eastman Kodak subsidiary, Tennessee Eastman Corp., was the first government contractor in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, producing enriched uranium for the atomic bomb. Dr. Steinhausen died on June 19, 1999.
The publication reprinted above makes clear that iophendylate was a significantly toxic material (as evidenced by Dr. Steinhausen’s own pathologic specimens). The paper in no way supports the lead author’s declaration that “With the assurance from these experimental studies that the new medium was safe…..” Because of these, and other, factors it seems highly unlikely that this paper would have, following peer review, never have been published today. It is further remarkable that ethyl iodophendylundeclate, ever made it into clinical use given the subsequent observations of Jaeger, and others. How this actually happened is a matter of frightening fact. What is clear is that Pantopaque® has been responsible for causing horrific global disease and disability over a 50 year period. The enormity of this problem has still not been fully appreciated but remains a legend in the field of medical misrepresentation.