Visualizing the Placental Energy State in Vivo
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The human placenta is vital for the intrauterine growth and development of fetus. It serves several vital functions, including the transmission of nutrients and hormones from the maternal to the fetal circulatory system. During pregnancy, partial infarcts, thrombosis or hemorrhage within the placenta may affect or even reduce the functional regions maintaining the exchange of hormones, oxygen and nutrients with the fetus. This poses a risk to fetal development and should be monitored, since, at a certain point, the nutritious support might not be sufficient anymore. To assess the functional placental tissue, diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging (DT-MRI) is used to discriminate different levels of the placental functional state. Highly active regions contain the so-called cotyledons, units that support the fetus with nutrients. In case of their failure, the fetus gets deprived of sufficient nutritious support, which potentially leads to placental intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). The direct measurement of the functional state of the cotyledons could provide meaningful insight into the current placental energy state. In this paper, we propose a workflow for extracting and visualizing the functional state of a single cotyledon and a combined visualization depicting the energy state of the entire placenta. We provide informal feedback from a radiologist with experience in placental functional data along 17 data sets.
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