Computed Tomography

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Micro-computed tomography apparatus

In embryology, the technique of micro-CT (μCT) has recently begun to become relevant in animal models and used for analysis of normal development features and those seen in genetically modified animal models, such as the mouse (More? Mouse Development).

Computed Tomography or computed axial tomography (CAT or CT scan) began in 1970's using x-ray and a computer to produce images either as individual slices or reconstructed to give three dimensional (3D) views of specific anatomical regions or structures.

Other potential developmental research imaging techniques include: positron emission tomography (PET), single photon emission computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, computed tomography, optical bioluminescence, fluorescence and high frequency ultrasound.

Links: Movies - Computed Tomography | Abnormal Development - Radiation | Category:Computed Tomography

Diagnosis Links: Prenatal Diagnosis | pregnancy test | amniocentesis | chorionic villus sampling | ultrasound | Alpha-Fetoprotein | Pregnancy-associated plasma protein-A | Fetal Blood Sampling | Magnetic Resonance Imaging | Computed Tomography | Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing | Fetal Cells in Maternal Blood | Preimplantation Genetic Screening | Comparative Genomic Hybridization | Genome Sequencing | Neonatal Diagnosis | Category:Prenatal Diagnosis | Fetal Surgery | Classification of Diseases | Category:Neonatal Diagnosis

Some Recent Findings

  • Micro-computed tomography-based phenotypic approaches in embryology: procedural artifacts on assessments of embryonic craniofacial growth and development.[1] "we assessed the nature and degree of morphological artifacts attending μCT scanning following use of common fixatives, using a two dimensional (2D) landmark geometric morphometric approach to track the accumulation of distortions affecting the embryonic head from the native, uterine state through to fixation and subsequent scanning. ...The degree to which artifacts are introduced in the generation of random craniofacial shape variation relates to the degree of specimen dehydration during the initial fixation. "
  • Rapid Three-Dimensional Phenotyping of Cardiovascular Development in Mouse Embryos by Micro-CT with Iodine Staining.[2] "Our method benefits from the ease of sample preparation, low toxicity, and low cost. Furthermore, we show how multiple cardiac defects can be demonstrated by micro-CT in a single specimen with a known genetic lesion. Indeed, a previously undescribed cardiac venous abnormality is revealed in a PlexinD1 mutant mouse."
  • Virtual histology of transgenic mouse embryos for high-throughput phenotyping.[3] "We present a novel, rapid, and inexpensive method for obtaining high-resolution virtual histology for phenotypic assessment of mouse embryos. Using osmium tetroxide to differentially stain tissues followed by volumetric X-ray computed tomography to image whole embryos, isometric resolutions of 27 mum or 8 mum were achieved with scan times of 2 h or 12 h, respectively, using mid-gestation E9.5-E12.5 embryos."
More recent papers
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Search term: Embryo Computed Tomography

<pubmed limit=5>Embryo Computed Tomography</pubmed>

Early Mouse Development MicroCT

Human Embryo

Week 6

Human embryo tomography Carnegie stage 17.jpg
 ‎‎Stage 17 Embryo
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Human Placenta

Human placenta vascular 01.jpg

Right image shows computed tomography angiography (CTA) of the term human placenta viewed from the fetal side.[4]


  • CA - chorionic artery
  • PSA - primary stem artery
  • SSA - secondary stem artery
  • TSA - tertiary stem artery



Links: Skull Development



Vascular Abnormalities[5]

Renal Vascular Anomalies: Multiple renal arteries | Accessory renal artery | Supernumerary right renal vein 1 | Supernumerary right renal vein 1 | Multiple right renal veins 2 | Multiple right renal veins 2 | Cardiovascular System Development

Axial Skeleton

Absent cervical spine pedicle.jpg

Absent Cervical Spine Pedicle (volume render CT)[6]

a arrow b arrow c arrow
Lateral view VRTshows the dorsally displaced right articular pillar of C5. Abnormal enlarged right intervertebral foramen of C4-5. which is a consequence of the absent cervical pedicle is displayed on an oblique view VRT image. Spina bifida occulta at the same level as well as a reversed facet-joint on the right (arrowhead in c) are well depicted on a dorsal view VRT images (c).


Mouse CT E11.5 movie-icon.jpg
 ‎‎Mouse E11.5 CT
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Mouse CT E12.5 sagittal movie.jpg
 ‎‎Mouse E12.5 CT
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Mouse CT E12.5 coronal movie.jpg
 ‎‎Mouse E12.5 CT
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Mouse CT E12.5 axial movie.jpg
 ‎‎Mouse E12.5 Axial
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Mouse embryo E13 microCT icon.jpg
 ‎‎Mouse E13 microCT
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Mouse embryo E14 microCT icon.jpg
 ‎‎Mouse E14 microCT
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Mouse embryo E14 sectioned microCT icon.jpg
 ‎‎Mouse E14 microCT
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Mouse embryo E15 microCT icon.jpg
 ‎‎Mouse E15 microCT
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Adult human brain tomography.jpg
 ‎‎Adult Brain
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Links: Movies - Computed Tomography

Optical Coherence Tomography

Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) is a non-invasive imaging technique generating high resolution (axial resolution 5–7 μm) cross-sectional images. The techniques has been used clinically for diagnosis and management in:

  • ophthalmology (spectral-domain OCT) for retinal diseases.
  • dermatology for evaluation of skin lesions, skin changes, parasitic infestations.

Radiation Exposure

Computed tomography effective doses (Japan)[7]

Computed tomography is a source of medical X-ray radiation exposure to the general population. The risk to an individual patient on the basis of dose levels of developing a malignant tumour due to CT is low and acceptable compared to the substantial benefit. There is though a large range/variation in radiation exposure between individual institutions and equipment settings.

Total radiology collective effective dose

  • UK (2005-2006) approximately 60% from CT.
  • Germany (2000-2005) for cancer patients from all X-ray procedures was approximately 82%.
  • USA about 67%


  1. <pubmed>20163731</pubmed>| BMC Developmental Biology
  2. <pubmed>20190279</pubmed>
  3. <pubmed>16683035</pubmed>| PLoS Genetics
  4. <pubmed>20226038</pubmed>| BMC Physiol.
  5. <pubmed>20461189</pubmed>| PMC2864862 | Korean J Radiol
  6. <pubmed>21062465</pubmed>| BMC Med Imaging.
  7. <pubmed>21044293</pubmed>| BMC Med Imaging.


Molecular Imaging and Contrast Agent Database (MICAD) NBK5330 | PMID:20641179

Search Pubmed

Search Pubmed: Embryo Computed Tomography | Computed Tomography | Micro-computed tomography apparatus

External Links

External Links Notice - The dynamic nature of the internet may mean that some of these listed links may no longer function. If the link no longer works search the web with the link text or name. Links to any external commercial sites are provided for information purposes only and should never be considered an endorsement. UNSW Embryology is provided as an educational resource with no clinical information or commercial affiliation.

  • University of Calgary 3D Morphometrics Lab
  • Duke Center for In Vivo Microscopy A 4D Atlas and Morphologic Database
    • Normal C57BL/6 mouse embryos from embryonic day E10.5 to E19.5
    • Normal C57BL/6 mouse neonates from post-natal day 0 to 32
    • Mutant mouse embryos with cardiac septation defects (conditional ablation of the Smoothened receptor gene, Mef2C-AHF-Cre;Smoflox/- mutants)
  • Drishti and Drishti-2 stands for vision or insight in Sanskrit, an Indian language. Ajay Limaye

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Cite this page: Hill, M.A. (2024, April 16) Embryology Computed Tomography. Retrieved from

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© Dr Mark Hill 2024, UNSW Embryology ISBN: 978 0 7334 2609 4 - UNSW CRICOS Provider Code No. 00098G