Magnetic resonance imaging and anthropometric measurements: a correlational study in fixed fetal specimens
Wickum, Mary Ellen
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For many decades the Boston University School of Medicine Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology has housed an unprovenienced collection of fetal specimens. At least ten percent of the 137 fetal specimens were lost due to drying out and other damage. The specimens were stored for many decades in individual fluid filled containers. There is no reliable information regarding the medical or curation histories of the human fetal specimens. Furthermore, there is concern that the fixative may have led some internal structures to shrink more than others. At issue was to determine whether the specimens had maintained or lost their relationships, and size amongst internal structures. In normal fetal development the cerebellum, the femur, and the foot all follow mostly positive linear growth with age. Therefore, the purpose of the present study was to assess whether these specimens demonstrate anatomical correlations that one might find within in utero fetuses. This prospective correlation study used MRI images of the cerebellum and femur as well as anthropometric measurements of each foot and mass to seek to answer this question. A blind, random sample of twenty-five specimens was selected from forty-eight specimens roughly grouped by size. The Boston University Institutional Review Board was notified and, assigned waiver status to the application because the specimens were unprovenienced fixed tissue. All specimens were magnetic resonance scanned at the Center for Biomedical Imaging at the Boston University School of Medicine using a 3.0T whole body scanner (Achieva, Philips Healthcare, Best, The Netherlands). All scans were acquired using the 8-channel high-resolution head coil made by Invivo for the Achieva 3T scanner. This study found that the measurements taken from the images, and the feet had good intra-rater reliability because paired t-tests did not show significant differences between the measurements (alpha (α) < 0.05, all p-values were > 0.17, t-values were less than t-critical, and R2 < 0.02). Pearson's correlation coefficient testing revealed strong positive correlation between all the mean measures comparing these three structures: transverse cerebellar diameter (TCD), femur length, and foot length (α < 0.05, r - values were > 0.91, p < 0.001, and R2 > 0.82). Leading us to conclude that the dimensions of the soft tissues - TCD; and bone tissues - femur and foot of the lower extremities were unlikely to have changed significantly in decades of storage.