Fractals for physicians.
There is increasing interest in the study of fractals in medicine. In this review, we provide an overview of fractals, of techniques available to describe fractals in physiological data, and we propose some reasons why a physician might benefit from an understanding of fractals and fractal analysis, with an emphasis on paediatric respiratory medicine where possible. Among these reasons are the ubiquity of fractal organisation in nature and in the body, and how changes in this organisation over the lifespan provide insight into development and senescence. Fractal properties have also been shown to be altered in disease and even to predict the risk of worsening of disease. Finally, implications of a fractal organisation include robustness to errors during development, ability to adapt to surroundings, and the restoration of such organisation as targets for intervention and treatment. Copyright 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.