Sonographic evaluation of the fetal thymus using the thy-box technique between 13 and 16 weeks' gestation

Alina Weissmann-Brenner*, Roni Zemet, Zvi Kivilevitch, Yaron Zalel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives-The purposes of this study were to assess the feasibility of fetal thymus measurement between 13 and 16 weeks' gestation, to evaluate the potential difference using color Doppler sonography with the thy-box technique, and to construct normal percentile ranges. Methods-This retrospective study included 287 healthy singleton pregnancies. The fetal thymus was shown in an axial plane of the upper mediastinum. Color Doppler imaging was applied to outline the thy-box: ie, the area between the brachiocephalic artery posteriorly and internal mammary arteries laterally. Measurements of the lateral and anteroposterior diameters of the thymus with and without color Doppler imaging were compared. Results-The thymus was shown in 95% of the cases (273 of 287) between 13 and 16 weeks' gestation. The mean lateral thymus diameter ± SD with color Doppler imaging (5.30 ±0.7 mm) was significantly longer in comparison to the measurement without color Doppler imaging (5.06 ±0.8 mm; P < .001), whereas the anteroposterior diameter was significantly shorter (3.19 ±0.9 versus 3.26 ±0.8 mm; P = .044). Normal percentiles of thymus measurements for gestational age were constructed. Conclusions-The fetal thymus can be clearly and accurately shown as early as 13 weeks' gestation by using the thy-box. Measurements with color Doppler imaging were significantly different from those without and hence are preferable, as color Doppler imaging can delineate the thymus borders more accurately.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2263-2268
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Ultrasound in Medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2015


  • Doppler sonography
  • Fetal thymus
  • Obstetric ultrasound
  • Prenatal diagnosis
  • Thy-box


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