Background: To compare the growth of the prostate in anencephalic, prune belly syndrome (PBS) and control fetuses.
Methods: We studied 35 prostates from normal human fetuses aged 11-22 weeks postconception (WPC); 15 from anencephalic fetuses aged 13-19 WPC; and 6 from PBS fetuses aged 13-31WPC. After prostate dissection, we evaluated the prostate length, width and thickness with the aid of a computer program (Image Pro and Image J). The fetal prostate volume (PV) was calculated using the ellipsoid formula: PV = [length × thickness × width] × 0.523. The prostates were dissected and the PV was measured with the aid of the same computer program. Means were statistically compared using the unpaired t-test and linear regression was performed.
Results: In 2 PBS fetuses we observed prostatic atresia. We did not observe significant differences in PV when comparing the control group (PV: 6.1 to 313.81 mm, mean = 70.85 mm: SD = 71.43 mm) with anencephalic fetuses: p = 0.3575 (PV: 5.1 to 159.11 mm, mean = 42.94 mm; SD = 40.11 mm) and PBS fetuses: p > 0.999 (PV: 10.89 to 148.71 mm, mean = 55.4 mm; SD = 63.64 mm). The linear regression analysis indicated that the PV in the control group (r2 = 0.3096; p = 0.0004), anencephalic group (r2 = 0.3778; p = 0.0148) and PBS group (r2 = 0.9821; p < 0.009) increased significantly and positively with fetal age (p < 0.0001).
Conclusions: We did not observe significant differences in development of the prostate in fetuses with anencephaly and in 2/3 of fetuses with PBS during the fetal period studied. In 1/3 of the PBS fetuses, the prostate had important atresia.
Level of evidence: Level III.
Keywords: Anencephaly; Human fetuses; Prostate; Prune belly syndrome.
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