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C. M. Wilson, K. D. Cocker, M. J. Moseley, J. Ng, A. R. Fielder; Vessel Parameters of the Developing Preterm Retina. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2008;49(13):5910.
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How the width and tortuosity of retinal vessels change throughout development of the premature retina in infants with healthy eyes is unknown. Tools which automatically detect the vascular changes of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) are at an advanced stage of development yet the normal maturational changes are not clear. This study determined the progression of vessel width and tortuosity change over time in a population of babies born prematurely who did not develop any stage of ROP.
20 RetCam (Clarity Medical Systems) images from 6 babies born at 27- 29 weeks gestational age (GA) acquired at 33 - 37 weeks post menstrual age (PMA) who did not develop any stage of ROP were selected. Each image was cropped to 60 degrees and analysed by Computer Aided Image Analysis of the Retina (CAIAR) software developed at Imperial College London. Width and tortuosity measures were calculated for one artery and one vein per quadrant. Results were analysed using Kruskal-Wallis One Way Analysis of Variance.
CAIAR width and tortuosity results for 157 vessels were analysed. Firstly the results were analysed grouping the images by PMA. No significant increase in tortuosity of vessels throughout development from 33-37 weeks PMA was detected. (p=0.159) Similarly, no significant increase in width measurement was found. (p=0.918) Secondly, the temporal characteristics of each individual baby were analysed, once again showing no significant increase in width or tortuosity measures with increasing PMA.
Preterm babies who do not develop any stage of ROP appear to be born with vascular parameters that remain until term. This confirms the validity of using automated programs to detect vascular changes for prediction of ROP outcome. Anecdotal clinician evidence suggests an increase in width over time but this conjecture is not confirmed by quantitative measurement.
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