• anomaly;
  • embryo;
  • human;
  • morphometry;
  • organogenesis

ABSTRACT  The embryonic period is characterized by organogenesis and accompanying dynamic changes in external features. The measurement of human embryos has been limited to whole body dimensions, such as crown-rump length. More detailed measurements would add quantitative information about these characteristic events and provide a better understanding of normal and abnormal embryonic development. In the present study, we defined axes, landmarks, and measurements for human embryos, and measured 250 externally normal human embryos at Carnegie stages 14–23 (6.5–29.3 mm in crown-rump length, approximately 5–8 weeks of estimated ovulation age) that were fixed in Bouin's solution and preserved in 10% formalin solution. The axes, landmarks, and measurements defined for human embryos are corresponding to those in human and primate fetuses. The whole body, head, face, and extremities were measured using a scale attached to a dissecting microscope. Axial length, head height plus ear-shoulder length plus trunk height, was designated as a new measurement of the whole body, which is comparable with crown-rump length. Approximate standards of these measurements were obtained. The ratios of some measurements to trunk height and between the different parts were also obtained, and several different developmental patterns were recognized. The reproducibility of each measurement was evaluated by measuring 50 specimens three times each at intervals of one or two months. As a pilot study for the application of the proposed measurements, 84 human embryos with external anomalies, including holoprosencephaly, anomalies of extremities, and pharyngeal arch anomalies, were measured using the same method, and a few tendencies characteristic to holoprosencephaly were noticed.