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Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. 1994 May 1;4(3):183-92.

Early development of the forebrain and midbrain: a longitudinal ultrasound study from 7 to 12 weeks of gestation.

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National Center for Fetal Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Trondheim University Hospital, Trondheim, Norway.


The purpose of this longitudinal study was to describe embryonic development in vivo. Twenty-nine healthy pregnant women were examined five times with transvaginal ultrasound between 7 and 12 weeks of gestation. Brain structures such as the hemispheres, the choroid plexus of the lateral ventricles, the diencephalon, and the mesencephalon were identified and, if possible, measured. It was possible to identify the cavities of the hemispheres, the diencephalon and the mesencephalon during week 7. The choroid plexus of the lateral ventricles became visible during week 8. The growth of the length, width and height of the hemispheres and the choroid plexus of the lateral ventricles was curvilinear, that of the mesencephalon and diencephalon was linear except for the width of the diencephalon. The width of the diencephalon, the future third ventricle, was 1.1 mm during week 7. It decreased to 0.8 mm at 12 weeks. Apart from the rhombencephalon, the cavity of the diencephalon was the large dominating brain structure during embryonic development. In early fetal life the cerebral hemispheres took over this dominance. The study was in full agreement with descriptions in the embryological literature, both concerning the anatomical features and their chronological formation.

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