SOVEREIGN, ISM / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SOVEREIGN, ISM / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Pulmonary embolism. Coloured frontal chest scintigram (gamma scan) of a pulmonary embolism in the right lower lung. An embolism occurs when an abnormal blood clot (thrombus) blocks a blood vessel, in this case a pulmonary artery. Smaller emboli may cause shortness of breath, dizziness and chest pain. Larger clots can be fatal, as the blood is quickly starved of oxygen. Thrombolytic drugs can be used to break up a thrombus, and anticoagulant drugs may help prevent the formation of others. If a thrombus is large, it may have to be surgically removed. A scintigram is a recording of the position and accumulation of a radioactive tracer in a tissue or organ.
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