‘Bronchi’ – the tubes that carry air from the nose and larynx to the alveoli of the lungs. ‘Ectasis’ – a condition of abnormal dilatation. Bronchiectasis is a condition that is seen following frequent recurrent infections of the bronchi, usually bronchitis, though it is also seen in people with immune problems caused by a variety of things such as cystic fibrosis (which causes mucus to be sticky, block the bronchi, and become infected) or ciliary dysfunction (which causes defective mucus transport in the bronchi – this is also a consequence of inhaling tobacco smoke – the “smoker’s cough).
The X-ray I’ve included is of a young person with cystic fibrosis and consequent bronchiectasis at the bases of his lungs. CT scanning has thankfully replaced the bronchograms I had to do when I began work in respiratory medicine. This dreadful procedure involved injecting the bronchi with a radio-opaque dye, but when properly performed the technique produced beautiful tree-like pictures of bronchi within the lungs of the patient (I hesitate to use the word victim, but it would be close.)
I’ve paired the X-ray with wood borers who damage the under-layers of tree-bark. When the tree dies and bark removed the whorled patterns can be seen; this is reminiscent of the patterns of bronchiectasis.
I like the contrast between these free-form patterns and the geometric shapes behind.