Tag Archives: Heart failure


12 May

XO and X-ray J


For this challenge it would have been too obvious to put in “X for X-ray” (I could have chosen any one of hundreds). However Turner’s syndrome came to mind and the index X-ray is a child with this condition.

Most people are born with two chromosomes that control gender; XY for males, and XX for females. Children with Turner’s syndrome are born with a single X chromosome (termed X0). They grow up to look like girls, but without normal female characteristics like breast development, and are infertile. Although most Turners children have normal intelligence they are characteristically short with a webbed neck, and there are several congenital abnormalities that may accompany the condition.

This girl was born with a narrowing of the main blood vessel to the body, the aorta, known as coarctation and had other cardiac defects. The aorta normally forms an arch like a walking stick, but on X-ray of children with coarctation the outline forms a figure 3. Because the flow through the aorta is obstructed by the narrowing this causes strain on the heart.

In a district hospital in 1977 without cardiac facilities a beautiful two year old girl from a farm some distance away was admitted in a collapsed state. She went suddenly and rapidly into heart failure and nothing we were able to do could revive her. She died within two hours. I well remember her parent’s devastation and my own feeling of inadequacy. She had undiagnosed Turners syndrome with coarctation. This condition can now be diagnosed early, usually antenatally, with modern facilities. The child can be seen and treated by experts; the situation I was exposed to shouldn’t happen nowadays.

In this picture I have tried to show the dichotomy of the chromosomes by dividing the X-ray onto a background of a landscape with marmalade skies, and to show the heart strain this condition can cause.

To obtain the colours I used a combination of blue (water) and orange (orange peel) with a DIFFERENCE filter and the background texture came from the wizened bark of a tree. It was overlain with the landscape and divided by two segmented images taken from the X-ray.



New year Pictures

3 Jan

The Festive season has been busy and I haven’t been able to post the pictures I’d prepared last year, so here goes:

This image is called Fire in my Heart It represents the mystical association between poetry and medicine. The original X-ray was from a person with heart failure due to myocardial infarction (heart attack). Treatment for heart failure – which used to be called dropsy – with foxglove (Digitalis) is well known – another link between beauty and medicine. The image incorporates text which reads Fire in my Heart in red. coincidentally the last letter has the form of the Chinese character for big   see if you can spot it. Behind, and largely obscured by the rest of the image, is the first verse of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam; “Awake, for morning in the bowl of night has flung the stone that puts the stars to flight, and  lo! The hunter of the East has caught the sultan’s turret in a noose of light.” This resonates with the rising sun image in the background over the area of the heart on the X-ray.


Chest 38; Fire in my Heart

I had fun producing this image, and it is a hopeful one after the darkness of many of the earlier images.


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