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Abstract

The architectural arrangement of the elastic-fiber network in the wall of canine hepatic portal veins was observed with the scanning electron microscope (SEM). Selective NaOH sonication digestion and autoclaving were used to expose and isolate the networks of elastic fibers from six selected regions of the hepatic portal vessels from seven healthy dogs. Elastic stains of adjacent segments prepared for light microscopy demonstrated that the elastic fibers were concentrated in two areas within the intact portal wall. The innermost area corresponded to the internal elastic lamina (IEL) of the tunica intima, the internal muscular layer, and the connective tissue layer of the tunica media. The second area was in the tunica adventitia. SEM specimens revealed two sleeves of elastic fiber networks which corresponded to the above regions. Small scattered bundles of radially oriented elastic fibers spanned the gap between the two sleeves. Each tunica had a different architectural arrangement of elastic fibers. The IEL had circumferentially oriented fibers which branched and anastomosed to form a continuous network on the innermost surface. The architecture of the IEL was the most variable between the different regions. The network of the IEL was the most “open” in the caudal region (splenic vein) and became “denser” toward the liver. The large elastic fibers inthe tunica media were oriented at approximately right angles to the primary fibers of the IEL. These longitudinally oriented fibers anastomosed with adjacent longitudinal fibers to form a continuous network. In the tunica adventitia, thick, longitudinally oriented fibers of the continuous network fused together to form incomplete layers of fibers. The architecture of the elastic-fiber network in the canine hepatic portal vein was compared to that previously described in the systemic canine saphenous vein.