Anatomy and Embryology

, Volume 186, Issue 1, pp 33–40 | Cite as

Scanning electron microscopy of esophageal microvasculature in human infants and rabbits

  • S. Aharinejad
  • P. Böck
  • A. Lametschwandtner
Original Articles


The microvasculature of the esophagus was studied by scanning electron microscopy of vascular corrosion casts in human infants and rabbits. In both species, segmental circumferential arteries arise from main longitudinal arteries, the latter giving off numerous perforating arteries. The tunica muscularis is supplied by branches of circumferential and perforating arteries, the submucosa and its glands by branches of perforatings. Terminal arborizations of perforating arteries feed a subepithelial capillary network. These capillaries are drained by a venous plexus in the lamina propria which is connected to a submucosal venous plexus. Perforating veins, running parallel to the corresponding arteries, connect the submucosal plexus with circumferential veins, and finally empty into main longitudinal veins. Valves were not present in any of the veins. Submucosal veins were less numerous in man than in rabbit. The number and caliber of equivalent vessels in human submucosal plexus decreased from the pharyngoesophageal to the gastroesophageal junction, suggesting the latter to be at particular risk in portal hypertension. The subepithelial capillary network reveals a longitudinal arrangement in rabbits, while the same network shows no preferential organization in human infants. The microvascular architecture of the esophagus in humans and rabbits is comparable, especially in the lay-out of the venous plexuses and the absence of venous valves. Therefore the rabbit could serve as an experimental model for studies on portal hypertension. The present results strongly suggest particular significance of the venous plexus in the lamina propria for the genesis of esophageal varices.

Key words

Esophagus Human infants Rabbit Microvascularization Corrosion casts Scanning electron microscopy 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Aharinejad
    • 1
    • 2
  • P. Böck
    • 3
  • A. Lametschwandtner
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Anatomy IUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria
  2. 2.Department of Micromorphology and Electron MicroscopyUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria
  3. 3.Department of Experimental ZoologyUniversity of SalzburgSalzburgAustria

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