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Teratology. 1990 Sep;42(3):285-93.

Effects of pulsed ultrasound and temperature on the development of rat embryos in culture.

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  • 1Department of Veterinary Clinical Studies, Sydney University, NSW, Australia.


Rat embryos in culture were exposed to pulsed ultrasound at SPTA intensity of 1.2 W/cm2 for 5, 15, and 30 min on day 9.5 of development. The whole embryo culture system allowed precise temperature control for directly examining the effects of ultrasound on the developing neural plate. After exposure, embryos were maintained in culture for a further 48 hr. No major morphological abnormalities were observed but a reduction in somite number occurred in the group insonated for 30 min, which was equivalent to a 2 hr delay in embryonic development. Similar delay in growth and "blistering" in the prosencephalon region of some embryos were observed after insonation for 15 min at 40.0 degrees C, an elevation of 1.5 degrees C over the temperature used for controls. Exposure to ultrasound for 15 min at 40 degrees C caused significant reduction in the growth of the head compared with that of control embryos. Heat shock genes for hsps 71/73 and 88 kD were induced after insonation for 30 min at 38.5 degrees C. Insonation did not cause any temperature changes in the culture medium. However, when the temperature of the culture medium was increased during insonation, defective development occurred. The results of these in vitro experiments suggest that ultrasound if resulting in significant hyperthermia could affect the development during early organogenesis of the neural plate and in particular they suggest that the embryo is at greater risk of damage during hyperthermic conditions. These results should provoke discussion of the concept that ultrasound in the febrile patient may present an increased embryonic risk which should be considered when deliberating on the use of diagnostic ultrasound procedures in the pregnant patient.

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