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A pictorial essay on fetal rabbit anatomy using micro-ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging

Authors


  • Funding sources: ME and PD are beneficiaries of a Marie Curie Industria-Academia Partnership and Pathways grant sponsored by the European Commission (251356). JDP is beneficiary of a fundamental clinical research grant of the Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (FWO) Vlaanderen (1.8.012.07.N.02) and JR, JT, and LD from the ‘Klinische Opleidings- en Onderzoeks- Raad’ of the University Hospitals Leuven. BVC is a postdoctoral fellow of the Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO). Our experimental program is supported by the Flemish Hercules foundation (large infrastructure investments AKUL/09/033) and by the KU Leuven (OT/13/115).

  • Conflicts of interest: None declared

ABSTRACT

Introduction

With this pictorial essay, we aimed to provide gestational age specific reference ranges of relevant fetal structures using micro-ultrasound, as well as its correlation with postmortem MRI and whole body sections.

Material and Methods

Time-mated pregnant rabbits (n = 24) were assessed once at various gestational ages in the second half of pregnancy (15, 17, 21 to 23, 25 to 28, and 30 to 31 days; term = 31 days). We obtained biometric data, together with Doppler flow patterns in the ductus venosus, umbilical artery and umbilical vein. After euthanasia, micro-ultrasound images were compared with images obtained by 9.4 Tesla MRI and whole body paraffin sections at 15, 23, 26, and 28 days.

Results

We constructed biometric normative curves, which showed a significant correlation with gestational age. The pulsatility index (PI) in the umbilical artery decreased with gestation (PI = 5.746–0.2969(GA) + 0.004931(GA)2; R2 = 0.30), whereas pulsatility index for veins (PIV) in the ductus venosus remained constant (median PIV = 0.82 (0.60–1.12)). In this report, we provide an anatomical atlas of fetal thoracic development using both micro-ultrasound and MRI.

Conclusion

We describe anatomical fetal leporine development as can be visualized by micro-ultrasound and MR imaging. The reported reference ranges may be useful for researchers using the fetal rabbit model. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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