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Tracheo-bronchial angles in the human fetus – an anatomical, digital, and statistical study

Marcin Daroszewski, Michał Szpinda, Piotr Flisiński, Anna Szpinda, Alina Woźniak, Adam Kosiński, Marek Grzybiak, Celestyna Mila-Kierzenkowska

Bydgoszcz, Poland

Med Sci Monit Basic Res 2013; 19:194-200

DOI: 10.12659/MSMBR.889085

Available online:

Published: 2013-07-16


Background: Both the advancement of visual techniques and intensive progress in perinatal medicine result in performing airway management in the fetus and neonate affected by life-threatening malformations. This study aimed to examine the 3 tracheo-bronchial angles, including the right and left bronchial angles, and the interbronchial angle, in the fetus at various gestational ages.
Material and Methods: Using methods of anatomical dissection, digital image analysis with an adequate program (NIS-Elements BR 3.0, Nikon), and statistics, values of the two bronchial angles and their sum as the interbronchial angle were semi-automatically measured in 73 human fetuses at the age of 14–25 weeks, derived from spontaneous abortions and stillbirths.
Results: No male-female differences between the parameters studied were found. The 3 fetal tracheo-bronchial angles were found to be independent of age. The right bronchial angle ranged from 11.4° to 41.8°, and averaged 26.9±7.0° for the whole analyzed sample. The values of left bronchial angle varied from 24.8° to 64.8°, with the overall mean of 46.2±8.0°. As a consequence, the interbronchial angle totalled 36.2–96.6°, and averaged 73.1±12.7°.
Conclusions: The tracheo-bronchial angles change independently of sex and fetal age. The left bronchial angle is wider than the right one. Values of the 3 tracheo-bronchial angles are unpredictable since their regression curves of best fit with relation to fetal age cannot be modelled. Both of the 2 bronchial angles and the interbronchial angle are of great relevance in the location of inhaled foreign bodies, and in the diagnosis cardiac diseases and mediastinal abnormalities.

Keywords: Imaging, Three-Dimensional - methods, Gestational Age, Fetus - anatomy & histology, Bronchi - anatomy & histology, Statistics as Topic, Trachea - anatomy & histology