Tag Archives: Turner


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.



Chest 71; Primary

20 Jun

I cheated a little in designing this picture; the sight lines and different patches of tone were taken as the basis for my study from a reproduction of a painting by Turner. The discipline enforced on myself was a challenge, mainly because I wanted to get a similar sense of movement. To some extent it was successful; the colours are vastly different from the original example, however the patches of differential tone are intentional. Integrating the human torso from the X-ray was also difficult as it imposed an almost architectural structure whereas the original picture (as so many of Turners are) was misty and evanecent.

The initial X-ray for this picture came from a young man with a primary focus of tuberculosis – a so called Ghon focus – in the left upper lobe. This is a small focus of inflammation, a point of activity seeded in the lung surrounding an infecting mycobacterium bacillus, inhaled from another sufferer. It is symbolised in my image by the candle-like point of light attached to the top of the distant tower. The infected foci go on to form a small granuloma, a little ball of active blood-vessels, and then as the patient recovers it leaves behind one or more amorphous calcified spots which can be seen at the bottom of the picture.

Primary tuberculosis may regress spontaneously, or progress with time, but it can become chronic or complications may develop. This person recovered on a course of antibiotics.

Known as the white plague in Victorian times it was thought when I was a student that the disease was in decline. Compromise of the immune system by diseases such as HIV, medical treatments such as steroids or cytostatic drugs, and autoimmune diseases, has led to a worldwide increase in tuberculosis.


Chest 71; Primary


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