Automated image analysis of placental villi and syncytial knots in histological sections

Debora Kidron, Ifat Vainer, Yael Fisher, Reuven Sharony

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction Delayed villous maturation and accelerated villous maturation diagnosed in histologic sections are morphologic manifestations of pathophysiological conditions. The inter-observer agreement among pathologists in assessing these conditions is moderate at best. We investigated whether automated image analysis of placental villi and syncytial knots could improve standardization in diagnosing these conditions. Methods Placentas of antepartum fetal death at or near term were diagnosed as normal, delayed or accelerated villous maturation. Histologic sections of 5 cases per group were photographed at ×10 magnification. Automated image analysis of villi and syncytial knots was performed, using ImageJ public domain software. Analysis of hundreds of histologic images was carried out within minutes on a personal computer, using macro commands. Results Compared to normal placentas, villi from delayed maturation were larger and fewer, with fewer and smaller syncytial knots. Villi from accelerated maturation were smaller. The data were further analyzed according to horizontal placental zones and groups of villous size. Discussion Normal placentas can be discriminated from placentas of delayed or accelerated villous maturation using automated image analysis. Automated image analysis of villi and syncytial knots is not equivalent to interpretation by the human eye. Each method has advantages and disadvantages in assessing the 2-dimensional histologic sections representing the complex, 3-dimensional villous tree. Image analysis of placentas provides quantitative data that might help in standardizing and grading of placentas for diagnostic and research purposes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-118
Number of pages6
JournalPlacenta
Volume53
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 May 2017

Keywords

  • Accelerated villous maturation
  • Automated image analysis
  • Delayed villous maturation
  • Placenta
  • Placental villi
  • Syncytial knots

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