A Review and Case Study of 3D Imaging Modalities for Female Amniote Reproductive Anatomy

May 10, 2022

Emma Clear (1) (2), Robyn A Grant (1), Michael Carroll (3), Charlotte A Brassey (1)
Integrative and Comparative Biology. (10 May 2022). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/icb/icac027


Recent advances in non-invasive imaging methods have revitalized the field of comparative anatomy, and reproductive anatomy has been no exception. The reproductive systems of female amniotes present specific challenges, namely their often internal “hidden” anatomy. Quantifying female reproductive systems is crucial to recognizing reproductive pathologies, monitoring menstrual cycles, and understanding copulatory mechanics. Here, we conduct a review of the application of non-invasive imaging techniques to female amniote reproductive anatomy. We introduce the commonly used imaging modalities of computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), highlighting their advantages and limitations when applied to female reproductive tissues, and make suggestions for future advances. We also include a case study of micro CT and MRI, along with their associated staining protocols, applied to cadavers of female adult stoats (Mustela erminea). In doing so, we will progress the discussion surrounding the imaging of female reproductive anatomy, whilst also impacting the fields of sexual selection research and comparative anatomy more broadly.

How Our Software Was Used

Image segmentation was conducted in Dragonfly using a combination of automated gray-scale thresholding and manual segmentation.

Author Affiliation

(1) Department of Natural Sciences, Manchester Metropolitan University, Chester St, Manchester M1 5GD, UK
(2) Williamson Park Zoo, Quernmore Road, Lancaster, Lancashire LA1 1UX, UK
(3) Department of Life Sciences, Manchester Metropolitan University, Chester St, Manchester M1 5GD, UK