Clinical research
Cross-sectional study of C1–S5 vertebral bodies in human fetuses
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Submission date: 2012-07-11
Final revision date: 2012-12-10
Acceptance date: 2013-01-16
Online publication date: 2014-01-23
Publication date: 2015-02-28
Arch Med Sci 2015;11(1):174–189
Introduction Knowledge on the normative spinal growth is relevant in the prenatal detection of its abnormalities. The present study determines the height, transverse and sagittal diameters, cross sectional area, and volume of individual C1–S5 vertebral bodies.
Material and methods: Using the methods of computed tomography (CT), digital image analysis, and statistics, the size of C1–S5 vertebral bodies in 55 spontaneously aborted human fetuses aged 17–30 weeks was examined.
Results: All the 5 examined parameters changed significantly with gestational age (p < 0.01). The mean height of vertebral bodies revealed an increase from the atlas (2.39 ±0.54 mm) to L2 (4.62 ±0.97 mm), stabilized through L3–L4 (4.58 ±0.92 mm, 4.61 ±0.84 mm), and then was decreasing to S5 (0.43 ±1.06 mm). The mean transverse diameter of vertebral bodies was increasing from the atlas (1.20 ±1.96 mm) to L1 (6.24 ±1.46 mm), so as to stabilize through L2–L3 (6.12 ±1.65, 6.12 ±1.61 mm), and finally was decreasing to S5 (0.26 ±0.96 mm). There was an increase in sagittal diameter of vertebral bodies from the atlas (0.82 ±1.34 mm) to T7 (4.76 ±0.85 mm), its stabilization for T8–L4 (4.73 ±0.86 mm, 4.71 ±1.02 mm), and then a decrease in values to S5 (0.21 ±0.75 mm) was observed. The values for cross-sectional area of vertebral bodies were increasing from the atlas (2.95 ±5.25 mm2) to L3 (24.92 ±11.07 mm2), and then started decreasing to S5 (0.48 ±2.09 mm2). The volumetric growth of vertebral bodies was increasing from the atlas (8.60 ±16.40 mm3) to L3 (122.16 ±74.73 mm3), and then was decreasing to S5 (1.60 ±7.00 mm3).
Conclusions: There is a sharp increase in size of fetal vertebral bodies between the atlas and the axis, and a sharp decrease in size within the sacral spine. In human fetuses the vertebral body growth is characterized by maximum values in sagittal diameter for T7, in transverse diameter for L1, in height for L2, and in both cross-sectional area and volume for L3.