Introduction: We assessed the post-mortem micro-CT utility to evaluate fetal cardiac impairment in nitrofen-induced congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH).
Methods: At 9.5d postconception (dpc), pregnant rats were exposed to nitrofen. At +18 and +21dpc, fetuses were harvested by cesarean section. Postmortem micro-CT and autopsy were performed. Fetuses were assigned to three experimental groups: Control group (C), Nitrofen group (N, exposition to nitrofen without CDH), CDH group. Cardio-pulmonary indices were evaluated.
Results: An accurate morphological evaluation of the lung and heart was obtained. Early cardiac impairment was present in the N and CDH groups. At term pregnancy, an increased maximum diameter and decreased minimum diameter of the ventricles and increased interventricular septal thickness were noted in CDH. Histology showed a myocardial "disarray" and an high density of mitotic myocytes in CDH at midgestation.
Conclusions: The potential utility of post-mortem fetal micro-CT examination in CDH was introduced. The results highlighted the presence of cardiac adaptation in affected fetuses.
Keywords: Congenital diaphragmatic hernia; fetal cardiac impairment; microcomputed tomography; nitrofen; virtual autopsy.