12 March 2014
The image was captured by Anders Persson, Director of the Centre for Medical Image Science and Visualisation at Linköping University in Sweden. Professor Persson was one of the first people to introduce the use of colour 3D images from scans into daily clinical practice.
This image was created using a new type of scan known as dual energy computed tomography (DECT) angiography. Unlike a conventional computer tomography (CT) scan, DECT uses two sources of X-rays at different energies to scan the patient. These are then digitally reconstructed in three dimensions and can be rotated, sliced or magnified for greater clarity. DECT provides higher-quality images than conventional CT without the need for exposure to additional radiation. This technique is extremely useful for noninvasively investigating and diagnosing medical conditions and for performing virtual autopsies.
BBC Medical Correspondent Fergus Walsh, who was a member of the judging panel and presented this year’s awards, said: "Anders Persson's 3D image of a mechanical heart fitted inside a human chest is truly stunning. The juxtaposition of delicate human anatomy with the robust mechanical plumbing parts is dramatic, and the image is rendered so vividly in 3D that it appears to jump out at the viewer."
The Wellcome Image Awards celebrate the best in science imaging talent and techniques. This is the second time that an overall winner has been selected. It is one of 18 winning images chosen from those acquired by the Wellcome Images picture library since the 2012 Awards. From scanning electron micrographs of a kidney stone and a headlouse egg to an X-ray of a bat, a 3D computed tomography image of a seal skull and a cross-section of a flower bud, the images show in minute detail the wonder that can be found in the world around and within us.
Fergus Walsh added: “As always, this year’s entries are both technically brilliant, and visually spectacular. Never before have I thought of a kidney stone or a nit as beautiful, but the Wellcome Image Awards show time and again that there can always be a different way of looking at things.”
Not only do this year’s images offer an up close and personal look at the fascinating world of science, but, for the first time, they will be available to view at public exhibitions across the UK.
The winning images will be displayed at four major science venues as well as in a window display at the Wellcome Trust’s headquarters in London. Glasgow Science Centre, the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) in Manchester, Techniquest in Cardiff and W5 in Belfast will all host simultaneous exhibitions, and there will be a display at the Ruskin Gallery at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge during the Cambridge Science Festival, bringing these images up close for a nationwide audience.
Catherine Draycott, Head of Wellcome Images and a member of the judging panel, said: “Every year, the Wellcome Image Awards bring to life the vibrancy of the world of science, as well as championing the incredible cutting-edge techniques in scientific imaging. This year, we are particularly delighted to be exhibiting the winners across the UK, allowing many more people to come closer to these exceptional images.”
The images will also be made available on the Wellcome Image Awards website and already feature in Wellcome Images collections, where they can be accessed and used along with more than 40,000 other contemporary biomedical and clinical images.
Since 2011, Wellcome Images has also partnered with the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, bringing images of their work into the Awards. This year, each organisation features an image from their respective selections in the other’s Awards and each provides a judge for the other's panel: Catherine Draycott, Head of Wellcome Images, and Anne Deconinck, Executive Director at the Koch Institute. The Koch Institute Image Awards are now on display in an exhibition.
Image: Mechanical heart pump in the thorax. Credit: Anders Persson/Wellcome Images