Pulmonary emphysema. False-colour computed tomo- graphy (CT) scan of an axial section through the thorax, showing a lung diseased with emphysema. At right is the affected lung (black); tissue damage is seen within the lung (blue/green). A relatively unaffected lung is at left. One of the thoracic vertebra of the spine can be seen (lower centre, red). Emphysema is a disease in which the tiny air sacs of the lung, or alveoli, become enlarged and the walls separating them damaged. This causes a reduced lung surface area for gaseous exchange. Carbon dioxide builds up in the blood, oxygen up- take is restricted, which leads to breathlessness, wheezing, a bluish skin and a chronic cough.
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