From the 19th World Congress on Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology in Hamburg, Germany
At medical meetings, the art of medicine takes a back seat to the presentation of hard data and the science of medicine. The meshing of those two worlds was never so seamless though as in the exhibit hall of the Congress Center Hamburg where high-tech 2- and 3-D diagnostic ultrasound images from the likes of Toshiba, Medison, and Philips shared floor space with a premier showing of a collection of fantastical images of the human embryo.
The artwork represents 50 years of fascination with human development, according to its creator Prof. Jan E. Jirásek, M.D., an instructor in embryology and reproductive medicine at the Institute for Care of Mother and Child in Prague.
“I became interested already in embryology at the time of my medical studies and after finishing medical studies my goal was to see all stages of human development, and I did it,” he said in an interview.
The advent of the personal computer, digital photography, and scanning electron microscopy has allowed the retired gynecologist and obstetrician to capture incredibly detailed images. There was a 1 mm trilaminar embryo within the amnionic sac (left), the head of an 11 mm 35 day-old embryo with distinct olfactory placodes (right), and a 27 mm 54-day embryo with amnion, yolk sac, and chorion.
Prof. Jirásek, now age 80, admits that some of the more colorful Warhol-like images have frightened a few viewers, but notes that “the morphology is real,” and that only the colors are computer generated based on his imagination. The end result is a fantastic celebration of the human form at its earliest stages.