Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

BPoD is 5

In 2017 we celebrate five years of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science

Young Hearts
07 November 2017

Young Hearts

As a baby develops in the womb, heart muscle fibres grow and twist into a pump that beats for the rest of their life. Researchers looked inside 23 developing human hearts and found important changes occur in the muscle at a precise time – over four days beginning 124 days into pregnancy. Here a technique called diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging highlights muscle fibres as lines artificially coloured by their different twists inside the overall structure. This 128-day old heart has thickened fibres, creating the muscular septum (long red branch) and strengthening the walls of the ventricles (white gaps) – crucial steps in the survival of the foetus. As heart defects are a major cause of miscarriage, pictures like this may provide a comparison for future pregnancies. Routine scans during these remarkable four days might detect problems earlier, saving young lives.

Written by John Ankers

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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