Continuous measurement of biparietal distance in the intact and hypophysectomized fetal sheep using ultrasound

S. Mesiano, P. J.D. Wickham, I. R. Young, C. A. Browne, G. D. Thorburn

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Piezoelectric transducers were implanted into the parietal bones of intact (n = 4) and hypophysectomized (n = 8) fetal sheep of approximately 110-120 days gestational age (term 145-150 days). Intertransducer distance was determined by measuring the time taken for an ultrasonic pulse, generated by one transducer, to elicit a piezoelectric response in an opposing transducer. The limit of sensitivity of the timer was ± 0.033 μsec. The ultrasonic velocity through fetal sheep brain tissue was 1549.6 ± 2.2m.s-1 (SEM; n = 33). This velocity remained constant throughout the entire period studied in both intact and hypophysectomized fetuses. At this velocity, the sensitivity of the measuring device was ± 0.05mm. The ultrasonic transit time was measured daily between 0900 and 1100 h until term in all fetuses. Three hypophysectomized fetuses were allowed to remain in utero until day 163 of gestation. The mean biparietal distance growth rate prior to day 135 for the intact and hypophysectomized fetuses was 0.25 ± 0.03 and 0.27 ± 0.025 mm/day respectively. These values were not significantly different (P > 0.05). A significant decrease (P < 0.05) in growth rate was detected in both experimental groups between days 135 and 147 and was more pronounced in the sham (0.05 ± 0.04 mm/day) than in the hypophysectomized (0.14 ± 0.03 mm/day) group. However, the growth rate of the sham animals after day 135 was not significantly different from that of the hypophysectomized animals. In the three hypophysectomized fetuses killed at day 163 the biparietal distance growth was maintained at 0.12 ± 0.005 mm/day. We conclude that fetal biparietal distance growth is pituitary independent from day 110 of gestation and that this technique for measuring distance is a valid and extremely accurate method for the continuous measurement of this parameter of fetal growth and may have further applications in other areas of growth research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)347-356
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Developmental Physiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1988

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