The Vasculature of the Human Brain
The human brain is a highly metabolic organ with no effective mechanism for storage of oxygen and glucose. The brain needs a constant supply of large amounts of blood, and blood flow is autoregulated by the brain itself. The brain comprises only 2% of total body weight but uses 15% of cardiac output and 25% of total oxygen consumption. The vasculature of the brain and spinal cord consists of an arterial input, intervening capillaries, and a venous drainage system. There are no lymphatic vessels in the central nervous system (CNS).
The intracranial vasculature differs from that found in the rest of the body in several ways. Arteries and veins of the brain pierce the dura mater and arachnoid membranes and lie in the subarachnoid space, bathed by cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).
All intracranial veins drain into the dural venous sinuses, which do not exist outside the skull. There are also differences in structure, innervation, and functional responses to injury. For example,...
KeywordsVertebral Artery Cavernous Sinus Basilar Artery Posterior Cerebral Artery Superior Sagittal Sinus
This chapter is dedicated to the memory of the late Dr. Julio H. Garcia, whose leadership and enthusiasm was the source of the original chapter and this revision.
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