A very clear picture of a 6-week-old fetus

For the first time in history, a 3D image of a human fetus in the sixth week of gestation was captured in the intimacy of the amniotic membranes

An emerging human embryo measuring just 3 millimeters in size has been imaged for the first time at an unprecedented high resolution. This was done by computed tomography, which is a new imaging technique.

“For the first time in history, we were able to capture a human fetus at the sixth week of gestation in the intimate relationship of the three-dimensional amniotic membranes,” embryologist Bernadette de Bakker told NRC. The embryo comes from a woman with an ectopic pregnancy, which has been implanted into the fallopian tubes. During emergency surgery, the fallopian tubes along with the fetus had to be removed – the woman decided to donate it to science.

In collaboration with physician and researcher Youssef Daoud, de Becker has succeeded in imaging the fetus in great detail using an innovative technique called computerized tomography (CT). This imaging technique is often used in geology to view rocks, and food technologists also use microcomputed tomography to assess the texture of food. De Bakker of the NRC: “We’re one of the pioneers in using it to study human tissue.”

A normal CT scan only shows relatively large structures in tissues, says de Becker. “But micro-CT turns out to be very suitable for soft tissues, if you give the contrast medium enough time to penetrate everywhere. We can now scan details down to a micrometer size. I expect that within 10 years all hospitals will have such a pathological examination device. This is an improvement. significant compared to the usual time-consuming microscopy.”

Most Attractive Illustration Award
The above photo and videos show that the fetus is accompanied by a yolk sac of approximately the same size. Together, they are embedded in placental tissue that grows into the wall of the fallopian tube. Its publication in Radiology earned it the most attractive illustration of the year.

3D atlas
De Bakker previously visualized human embryo development in a 3D atlas. To this end, images from more than 15,000 sections of fetuses aged 15 days to 2 months were digitized. The embryos come from the Carnegie Historical Collection in the United States. The atlas clarified a number of misunderstandings about the development of the human fetus, which led to its publication in the popular scientific journal Science.

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Name of author and/or editor by: Amsterdam UMC
Photographer or photographic agency: INGImages
The source of this article: Amsterdam UMC
What is the URL for this resource?: https://www.amsterdamumc.org/nl/vandaag/voor-het-eerst-haarscherp-beeld-van-6-weken-oud-embryo.htm
original title: A very clear picture of a 6-week-old fetus for the first time
the target audience: Health care professionals and students
Date: 2022-01-03

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