Three-dimensional fine structure of the biliary tract: Scanning electron microscopy of biliary casts

Authors

  • Dr. Kazuhide Yamamoto,

    Corresponding author
    1. First Department of Internal Medicine and Second Department of Anatomy, Okayama University Medical School, Okayama 700, Japan
    • First Department of Internal Medicine, Okayama University Medical School, Shikata-cho,2-5-1, Okayama, 700, Japan
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  • Tatsuya Itoshima,

    1. First Department of Internal Medicine and Second Department of Anatomy, Okayama University Medical School, Okayama 700, Japan
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  • Takao Tsuji,

    1. First Department of Internal Medicine and Second Department of Anatomy, Okayama University Medical School, Okayama 700, Japan
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  • Takuro Murakami

    1. First Department of Internal Medicine and Second Department of Anatomy, Okayama University Medical School, Okayama 700, Japan
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Abstract

The three-dimensional structure of the biliary tract was studied by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) of biliary casts. The replica of the biliary tract was successfully prepared by retrograde injection of low viscosity resin into the common bile duct. Bile canaliculi are intricate networks in which hexagonal and pentagonal meshworks are interconnected. Each hexagonal or pentagonal meshwork is on a plane, but adjoining meshworks are on different planes. Bile canalicular networks connect with bile ductules at the periphery of the portal tract. The intrahepatic bile duct showed considerable interspecies variation. The human bile duct has plexiform side branches and periductal sacculi, which are most numerous near the liver hilum and fewest in the smaller portal tracts. The hilar plexus and sacculi are present on opposite sides of the bile duct. The plexus formed at the bifurcation of the bile ducts exhibits a plane. Periductal sacculi were also observed in the monkey and pig bile ducts, particularly the latter, while rat bile ducts possess a peculiar portal bile ductular plexus situated between the portal tract and the surrounding liver parenchyma. No such structures were observed in either the dog or rabbit bile ducts. SEM of the biliary casts showed that the biliary tract was not a simple draining tube but had additional structures, such as periductal sacculi and plexiform side branches. These structures, together with the peribiliary vascular plexus, may be implicated in the modification of bile.

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