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Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. 1995 Apr;5(4):228-32.

Three-dimensional imaging of the brain cavities in human embryos.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Trondheim University Hospital, Norway.


A system for high-resolution three-dimensional imaging of small structures has been developed, based on the Vingmed CFM-800 annular array sector scanner with a 7.5-MHz transducer attached to a PC-based TomTec Echo-Scan unit. A stepper motor rotates the transducer 180 degrees and the complete three-dimensional scan consists of 132 two-dimensional images, video-grabbed and scan-converted into a regular volumetric data set by the TomTec unit. Three normal pregnancies with embryos of gestational age 7, 9 and 10 weeks received a transvaginal examination with special attention to the embryonic/fetal brain. In all three cases, it was possible to obtain high-resolution images of the brain cavities. At 7 weeks, both hemispheres and their connection to the third ventricle were delineated. The isthmus rhombencephali could be visualized. At 9 weeks, the continuous development of the brain cavities could be followed and at 11 weeks the dominating size of the hemispheres could be depicted. It is concluded that present ultrasound technology has reached a stage where structures of only a few millimeters can be imaged in vivo in three-dimensions with a quality that resembles the plaster figures used in embryonic laboratories. The method can become an important tool in future embryological research and also in the detection of early developmental disorders of the embryo.

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