Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Amazing embryo photos from ectopic pregnancies

These two photos are by Ed Uthman, MD, and he has placed them in the public domain for educational purposes. I will share them here, along with what Dr. Uthman has to say about the embryos in question.

Because pregnancy is counted from the first day of the mother's last menstrual period, not from conception, the embryos in question are two weeks younger than Dr. Uthman's stated pregnancy duration, as he explains.

This photo of an opened oviduct with an ectopic pregnancy features a spectacularly well preserved 10-millimeter embryo. ....

Even an embryo this tiny shows very distinct anatomic features, including tail, limb buds, heart (which actually protrudes from the chest), eye cups, cornea/lens, brain, and prominent segmentation into somites. The gestational sac is surrounded by a myriad of chorionic villi resembling elongate party balloons. This embryo is about five weeks old (or seven weeks in the biologically misleading but eminently practical dating system used in obstetrics).

Now, fast-forward just two weeks:

The size and anatomic features suggest development equivalent to a nine-week pregnancy (or seven weeks post ovulation). In obstetrics, pregnancy is dated from the first day of the last menstrual period, which is about two weeks prior to the ovulation that resulted in the pregnancy.

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Anonymous said...

Very Cool! :)

Thanks for sharing.

Morpheme said...

Thanks for clarifying the actual days-from-conception of these photos! I'm not considering an abortion, but I am going through a first time pregnancy, and going on 8 weeks (according to my midwife) I have been so frustrated with the difference between photos on pro-life sites that showed babies at, for example, 7 weeks being a LOT more advanced than the drawings of 7 week old pregnancies on the ordinary "tracking your pregnancy" sites... it makes it hard to actually imagine how big the baby is at an early gestation, and makes the more advanced ones seem fake. LOL. I really appreciate the fact that when you post these, you specify both the "official" age of the pregnancy and the actual age of the embryo!