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Hypertension. 1998 Jan;31(1 Pt 2):440-4.

Three-dimensional microcomputed tomography of renal vasculature in rats.

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  • 1Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Mayo School of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn 55905, USA.


Current microscopic methods to view renal microvasculature reveal only a very limited portion of the total renal volume. Identification of connectivity for postglomerular vessels in the cortex and the medulla during functional states related to changes in sodium excretion will help better to understand the coupling of renal vasculature to tubular function. The purpose of this study was to investigate the possibility of visualizing the continuity of pre- and postglomerular vasculature using three-dimensional micro-computed tomography (micro-CT). Kidneys from normal rats were perfusion fixed in situ at physiological pressure, filled with latex microfil containing lead chromate, and embedded in plastic. The micro-CT scans of the intact kidneys were carried out on a rotating stage illuminated either by a synchrotron x-ray source or a conventional x-ray spectroscopy tube. Images were reconstructed by a filtered backprojection algorithm and volume-rendering techniques were utilized to display the vasculature. The reconstructed images clearly showed the large distribution vessels and the venous drainage of the kidneys, while pre- and postglomerular vessels and their vascular connections throughout the kidney were displayed in great detail. Efferent arterioles showed the characteristics of their peritubular capillary beds in the cortical and medullary regions. The vascular volume of the cortex was 27%, the outer stripe of the outer medulla 18%, the inner stripe of the outer medulla 30%, and the inner medulla 18%. In conclusion, micro-CT is a promising method to evaluate renal vascular architecture relative to physiological and pathological alterations.

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