Many imaging problems such as imaging with electrical impedance tomography (EIT) can be shown to be inverse problems: that is either there is no unique solution or the solution does not depend continuously on the data. As a consequence solution of inverse problems based on measured data alone is unstable, particularly if the mapping between the solution distribution and the measurements is also nonlinear as in EIT. To deliver a practical stable solution, it is necessary to make considerable use of prior information or regularization techniques. The role of a Bayesian approach is therefore of fundamental importance, especially when coupled with Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) sampling to provide information about solution behaviour. Spatial smoothing is a commonly used approach to regularization. In the human thorax EIT example considered here nonlinearity increases the difficulty of imaging, using only boundary data, leading to reconstructions which are often rather too smooth. In particular, in medical imaging the resistivity distribution usually contains substantial jumps at the boundaries of different anatomical regions. With spatial smoothing these boundaries can be masked by blurring. This paper focuses on the medical application of EIT to monitor lung and cardiac function and uses explicit geometric information regarding anatomical structure and incorporates temporal correlation. Some simple properties are assumed known, or at least reliably estimated from separate studies, whereas others are estimated from the voltage measurements. This structural formulation will also allow direct estimation of clinically important quantities, such as ejection fraction and residual capacity, along with assessment of precision.