In utero

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In utero is a term coming from the Latin language, meaning "in the uterus". The phrase is used in biology to describe the status of an embryo or fetus. In other words, in utero means residing or occurring within the uterus or womb; that is, "unborn".

Surgical advances in utero

Even as recently as the 1960's and 1970's doctors knew little about the genetic and molecular progression from embryo to full-term infant. Now, however, scientists and physicians are taking on bold and experimental surgical procedures in utero; for example, closing a hole at the bottom of an embryo's spinal cord, the telltale characteristic of myelomeningocele, or spina bifida. In one such case in August 1999, Dr. Joseph Bruner of Vanderbilt University performed a surgery where he cut into the mother's abdomen, lifted her uterus out of her body, cut through the outer muscle, removed the living fetus, surgically repaired the spinal defect, and tucked everything back inside. Fully fifteen weeks later, Samuel Armas "came out screaming", says the mother.

Extraordinary Animals In The Womb

In a documentary film entitled Extraordinary Animals In The Womb, National Geographic published unique, very detailed images of animals at different stages of gestation. These pictures included shots of a fetal penguin, dog, dolphin, and even an elephant while inside the uterus.

The movie used advanced imaging and scanning technology to document the gestational course of animals outside the human family. Actually a combination of computer-generated models, digital photography, and scans were used to assemble the footage. The resulting images, though not genuine photographs, are accurate representations of what transpires inside these animal wombs, according to the researchers.