New high energy x- rays show damage to lungs caused by Covid-19

Service Engineering

Hip-CT is a new technique that enables surgeons to see a 3D map of the lung at different scales, even down to as small as cellular level. A European Synchrotron particle accelerator released high energy x- rays which showed that Covid- 19 was causing damage to the lungs’ smallest blood vessels. The accelerator looked at the lungs as well as other organs given by a donor that died of Covid-19.

The accelerator had an Extremely Brilliant Source upgrade (ESRF-EBS) which it means it can produce x- rays that are 100bn times brighter than traditional ones used in hospitals. Furthermore, researchers can now see blood vessels that are a 1/10 of a diameter of a hair, whereas before they could only see blood vessels 1mm in diameter on a CT scan.

“The accelerator can produce x- rays that are 100bn times brighter than traditional ones used in hospitals“

UCL Mechanical Engineering, Dr Claire Walsh said “As we start to link our HiP-CT images to clinical images through AI techniques, we will — for the first time — be able to highly accurately validate ambiguous findings in clinical images. For understanding human anatomy this is also a very exciting technique, being able to see how tiny organ structures in 3D in their correct spatial context is key to understanding how our bodies are structured and how they therefore function.”

Lead scientist at ESRF, Dr Paul Tafforeau, said “This allows us to see in 3D the incredibly small vessels within a human organ, enabling us to distinguish in 3D a blood vessel from the surrounding tissue, and even to observe some specific cells,” he said. “This is a real breakthrough, as human organs have low contrast and so are very difficult to image in detail with the current available techniques.”

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