Tag Archives: bronchiectasis

Bark-borer beetle and Bronchiectasis

20 Apr
Bark-borer beetle, bronchiectasis J

Bark-borer beetle and Bronchiectasis   © 2016

Challenge “B”

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.


Senses 5; Taste

2 May


The Senses 5; Taste


The sense of taste is such a difficult thing to define that composing and making this image has been very difficult. It has been through about ten iterations, all were rejected, and still what has been achieved is not really to my satisfaction, perhaps I’ll return to this after a while.

Taste is the discernment of food sensed on the tongue; the perception is very heavily overlaid by the sense of smell. The sensations of different tastes are allocated to various areas on the tongue – an experiment we did as medical students was to find and describe those loci; bitterness, right at the back of the tongue, sweetness, right at the front, sourness and salt on the sides of the tongue. Since those days another taste – called umami has been described (Japanese, umai “delicious” mi “taste”). This can be recognised asthat mild aftertaste of savoury especially after eating meat. There is still controversy over whether it is a basic taste – or not.

Quite apart from the influence of smell on the taste of food is the effect of temperature, and especially texture on perception is important. The bubbliness of a carbonated drink for example changes the experience. This is sensed through specialised nerve endings on the tongue and palate.

In this picture I have fused images in my environment in an attempt to indicate a variety of taste sensations. Salt sea is overlain by a field of sugar-cane, and the horizontal lines of the waves compete with vertical curves of the grassy sugar- cane in an exciting way. I’d intended to layer it with aloes to provide bitterness, but in the end the radiating lines from the shadow of a bitter aloe help to focus the eye into the right lower third where a stream of bubbles rises within the outline of a champagne glass. I chose the rather old-fashioned champagne coupe rather than the modern fluted glass. Legend has it that the coupe glass was moulded from Marie Antoinette’s left breast.

Finally the chest X-ray is from a man with severe long-standing bronchiectasis – a condition that causes dilation of the air-passages of the lung which become filled with infected mucus. These unfortunate people classically have foul smelling breath and live with an awful taste in their mouths. Behind the beauty and excitement of the champagne lurks the darker side of this grave disease

Chest 90; Racing form

3 Oct

Chest 90; Racing form

The photographs that make up this image were taken at the Ewen Race-track – the last annual country race meeting in Queensland, and one of the last in Australia. The weekend was hot (40° C) dry and dusty. As rural fire-fighters we were raising funds for the fire station by manning the entrance gate, and monitoring safety at the horse-crossing.

The image contains three layers showing the horses galloping in a cloud of dust, and a layer with two small boys watching the racing form, their race-cards in their pockets. Providing colour and texture is a close-up of a ladies purple feather fascinator. The combination of layers and textures produces a carnival, circus like atmosphere typical of the feeling at the meeting with the ladies dressed up to the nines swaying around in the gravel, men wandering around in freshly laundered long-sleeve shirts and ties, and all this on a camp-site in the middle of the bush over two hours drive from the nearest town.

As always behind it all is the chest x-ray of a young person with bronchiectasis and underlying collapse of the infected lobe. This condition is due to chronic infection and a vicious spiral of bronchial infection, fibrosis causes bronchial walls to dilate, and an inability to expel mucus which then becomes infected. Sadly and embarrassingly for the person concerned, it is often associated with terrible halitosis. Bronchiectasis frequently starts with a childhood lung infection. The link between the X-ray and the picture has to do with children looking into the future, the speed of the horses and a rapid respiratory rate in the dust and heat.

Chest 56; Windy night

6 Apr

Chest 56; Windy night

‘Twas a dark and stormy night.

The chest X-ray was taken from a teaching file of a young person with bronchiectasis. It caused severe respiratory distress from which he died. The file did not state the cause but it was probably post infective though it could have been cystic fibrosis. I was meditating on the concept of breath as wind and have created an image in which the X-ray becomes a sail tossed on a stormy sea. The pattern on the sail reminds me of the patterns on Chinese cotton damask fabric.  


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