The damage caused by Covid-19 to the lungs’ smallest blood vessels has been intricately captured using high-energy X-rays emitted by a special type of particle accelerator.
Scientists from UCL and the European Synchrotron Research Facility (ESRF) used a new revolutionary imaging technology called Hierarchical Phase-Contrast Tomography (HiP-CT), to scan donated human organs, including lungs from a Covid-19 donor.
Using HiP-CT, the research team, which includes clinicians in Germany and France, have seen how severe Covid-19 infection ‘shunts’ blood between the two separate systems – the capillaries which oxygenate the blood and those which feed the lung tissue itself. Such cross-linking stops the patient’s blood from being properly oxygenated, which was previously hypothesised but not proven.
HiP-CT enables 3D mapping across a range of scales, allowing clinicians to view the whole organ as never before by imaging it as a whole and then zooming down to cellular level
Read more on the ESRF website
Image: Left: Scientists Claire Walsh, UCL and Paul Tafforeau, ESRF, during experiments at the ESRF, the European Synchrotron, France. (Credit S.Candé/ESRF)