The chest X-ray in the teaching files comes from a child with congenital absence of the left lung. The right lung has expanded and grown to take the place and the work of the left, but the chest wall is quite distorted by the congenital condition. The chances are high that if this is the only abnormality – and congenital anomalies frequently come together with others – the child could grow up to lead a relatively normal life, though with less respiratory reserve than his peers.
It is associated with a tangle of lines and natural objects to indicate the complexity of our lives. In this case they’re associated with all the problems of life this child with only one lung may face.
In a situation in which teaching X-rays exists simply as objects in a collection of anonymous cases, I teach my students using them, whilst trying to instil the precept that behind any X-ray photograph there lives a person with the same feelings, needs, and aspirations, as any other human, and they must be treated with respect due; as if they were a person.
The lone tree represents the individual.