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Wellcome Image of the Week: Blood clot on a plaster

15 Nov, 2013

B0007385 Blood clot on a sticking plaster Most of us throw our used plasters in the bin without a second thought, but Anne Weston’s curiosity was sparked after she cut her finger. With access to a scanning electron microscope (SEM), Weston, of Cancer Research UK, decided to take a closer look. An SEM uses a focussed beam of electrons to create an image of a sample. When the electrons interact with the atoms in the sample they produce signals that can be converted into a black and white image. This image uses false colour to help differentiate the different elements of the scene. There is a striking beauty to Anne’s image as it reveals the dynamic nature of a blood clot. Anne’s plaster (shown in blue-grey) provides a frame for both the image and the clot itself. The thin fibres of the protein Fibrin (shown in beige) trap the red blood cells (shown in red) and platelets to form the solid clot. Blood clots like the one imaged here, not only prevent further bleeding, but also protect the open wound from infection. So while we might have other things on our mind when removing a plaster, this image serves as a reminder of how impressively our body protects us.

Image credit: Anne Weston, Cancer Research UK’s London Research Institute, Wellcome Images

Wellcome Images is one of the world’s richest and most unusual collections, with themes ranging from medical and social history to contemporary healthcare and biomedical science. All our images are available in digital form and many are free to use non-commercially under the terms of a Creative Commons licence.

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