A teratologic evaluation of continuous‐wave, daily ultrasound exposure in unanesthetized pregnant rats

Charles V. Vorhees, Karen D. Acuff‐Smith, Walter P. Weisenburger, Richard A. Meyer, Nadine B. Smith, William D. O'Brien

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Pregnant Sprague‐Dawley rats were trained to remain immobile when placed in water in an ultrasound exposure tank and exposed to 0, 0.1, 2.0, or 30.0 W/cm2 ISPTA (spatial peak, temporal average), 3.0‐MHz continuous wave (cw) ultrasound on embryonic (E) days 4–19 for approximately 15 min/ day. On E20 fetuses were removed; weighed; examined for external, skeletal, and visceral malformations; and uteri were examined for resorptions. Analyses revealed no increase in pre‐implantation loss and no effects on maternal body weight, food, or water consumption. No increase in skeletal or visceral malformations was found, in fact exposed groups had a lower incidence of defects than controls. A significant increase in resorptions in the lowest exposure group (0.1 W/cm2) was obtained, but the effect was isolated, non‐dose dependent and not credible as a treatment‐related effect. No reduction in fetal weight was obtained, in fact the lowest (0.1‐W/cm2) and middle (2.0‐W/cm2) exposure level groups weighed slightly more than controls. The immobility procedure succeeded in avoiding anesthetization or forced restraint of the dams, thereby eliminating these factors as potential confounders. The results demonstrated that in unanesthetized, unrestrained rats in utero exposure to incident intensities of ultrasound of up to 30.0 W/cm2 cw ultrasound (or estimated internal exposures of 4–21 W/cm2, depending on body orientation to the incident beam) produced no evidence of embryotoxicity based on fetal necropsy data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)667-674
Number of pages8
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Embryology
  • Toxicology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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