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Abstract

We studied the parietal pleura of six sheep to obtain information on pleura structure, blood supply, and lymphatic drainage. In the strict sense, the parietal pleura is composed of a single layer of mesothelial cells and a uniform layer of loose, irregular connective tissue (about 23 μm in width) subjacent to the mesothelial cells. The parietal pleural blood vessels are 10–15 μm from the pleural space. Tracer substances put in the pleural space are removed at specific locations. Colloidal carbon and chick red blood cells are cleared by teh parietal pleural lymphatics located over the intercostal spaces at the caudal end of the thoracic wall and over the lateral sides of the pericardial sac. In these areas the mesothelial cells have specialized openings, the stomata, that directly communicate with the underlying lymphatic lacunae. Cells and particulate matter in the pleural space are cleared only by the parietal pleural lymphatics. Compared to the visceral pleura, we believe the thinness of the parietal pleura, the closeness of its blood vessels to the pleural space, and its specialized lymphatic clearance pathways, together indicate that the parietal pleura plays a major role in pleural liquid and protein dynamics in sheep.