Ypsilantis, P., Souftas, V., Vyza, V. et al. 2021. Magnetic resonance imaging for early pregnancy diagnosis in the laboratory rat. Laboratory Animals 55(3), 262-269.
Pregnancy diagnosis and embryo counting are important end points in reproductive, developmental biology and toxicology studies. The purpose of the present study was to assess the feasibility and efficacy of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for early pregnancy diagnosis and embryo counting in the laboratory rat. Female Wistar rats were subjected to whole-body MRI scanning using a 1.5T MRI scanner, employing a isotropic T2-weighted 3D short-tau inversion recovery sequence from day 8 to day 12 post coitum (pc) or without prior mating, under general anaesthesia for pregnancy diagnosis and embryo counting. MRI examination was followed by laparotomy and visual inspection of the uterus to verify MRI findings. By day 8 pc, uterine bulges, characteristic of pregnancy, were depicted as oval-shaped structures of high intensity signal. By day 10 pc, embryonic vesicles were detected at the medial side of the uterine bulges. Pregnancy was diagnosed with 0% false-negative diagnosis and 100% accuracy by day 11 pc, while embryos were counted with 100% accuracy by day 12 pc. In conclusion, MRI proved to be a feasible and reliable non-invasive imaging method of early pregnancy diagnosis and embryo counting in the laboratory rat.