Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Your Bleeping Heart
09 October 2014

Your Bleeping Heart

Thousands of people in the UK are waiting for a heart transplant, and it can take more than a year for a suitable organ to become available. In the meantime, some patients may be offered an artificial heart – the blue barrels seen here, nestled under a patient's ribcage. To make sure everything was connected up right, doctors took this image using a scanning technique called dual-energy computed tomography, or DECT. This is a type of CT scan that reveals exquisite detail about what's going on inside the body. Instead of using just one high-energy x-ray beam, like a regular CT scan, it also uses a second lower-energy beam. It's particularly good at picking up unnatural objects in the body, like the components of this heart pump and the metal staples holding it in place, as well as giving a clear picture of the blood vessels it's plumbed into.

Written by Kat Arney

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