First trimester human villous vascularization is mainly studied by conventional two-dimensional (2D) microscopy. With this (2D) technique it is not possible to observe the spatial arrangement of the haemangioblastic cords and vessels, transition of cords into vessels and the transition of vasculogenesis to angiogenesis. The Confocal Laser Scanning Microscopy (CLSM) allows for a three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction of images of early pregnancy villous vascularization. These 3D reconstructions, however, are normally analyzed on a 2D medium, lacking depth perception. We performed a descriptive morphologic study, using an immersive Virtual Reality system to utilize the full third dimension completely. This innovative 3D technique visualizes 3D datasets as enlarged 3D holograms and provided detailed insight in the spatial arrangement of first trimester villous vascularization, the beginning of lumen formation within various junctions of haemangioblastic cords between 5 and 7 weeks gestational age and in the gradual transition of vasculogenesis to angiogenesis. This innovative immersive Virtual Reality system enables new perspectives for vascular research and will be implemented for future investigation.

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Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

van Oppenraaij, R. H. F., Koning, A., Lisman, B. A., Boer, K., van den Hoff, M., van der Spek, P., … Exalto, N. (2009). Vasculogenesis and Angiogenesis in the First Trimester Human Placenta: An Innovative 3D Study Using an Immersive Virtual Reality System. Placenta, 30(3), 220–222. doi:10.1016/j.placenta.2008.12.014