Tin of 'Horlicks X-ray Shadow Meal', England, 1938-1950

1938-1950 in Slough

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Tin of "Horlicks x-ray Shadow Meal" barium sulphate compound by Horlicks Ltd., Slough, England, 1938-1950. Front three
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Tin of 'Horlicks X-Ray Shadow Meal' barium sulphate compound by Horlicks Ltd., Slough, England, 1938-1950.

Bones show up easily on an X-ray but soft tissues such as guts and intestines hardly show at all. To improve the quality of the X-ray, what is known as a contrast medium is used. This is intended to improve the detail of these otherwise barely visible structures.

For example, after a patient drinks a solution of barium sulphate, the guts show up as an opaque white colour in subsequent X-rays. To make the liquid easier to drink, it was sometimes flavoured with the popular malted milk drink Horlicks. Barium sulphate is still used today to improve contrast in X-ray images.


Object Number:
paper label and steel (metal)
x-ray contrast media and diagnosis (radiography), horlicks x-ray shadow meal, barium sulphate, diagnosis (radiography), x-ray contrast media and x-ray contrast medium mixer
  • furnishing and equipment
  • tools & equipment
  • x-ray machine
  • visual and verbal communication
  • photograph
  • furnishing and equipment
  • tools & equipment
  • x-ray machine
  • furnishing and equipment
  • container - receptacle
  • can - container

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