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Zentralbl Chir. 2014 Oct;139(5):499-507. doi: 10.1055/s-0032-1327967. Epub 2013 Jan 16.

[Aspects of vascular physiology in clinical and vascular surgical practice: basic principles of vascular mechanics].

[Article in German]

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Institut für Physiologie, Universitätsklinikum Magdeburg A. ö. R., Magdeburg, Deutschland.
Klinik für Allgemein-, Viszeral- & Gefäßchirurgie, Universitätsklinikum Magdeburg A. ö. R., Magdeburg, Deutschland.


To be able to evaluate properly a vascular problem, basic concepts of vascular physiology need to be considered, as they have been taught in physiology for a long time. This article deals with selected definitions and laws of passive vascular mechanics, subdivided into parameters of vascular filling and parameters of vascular flow. PARAMETERS OF VASCULAR FILLING: During vascular filling the transmural pressure distends the vascular wall until it is balanced by the wall tension. The extent of this distension up to the point of balance depends on the elasticity of the wall. Transmural pressure, wall tension and elasticity are defined, and their respective importance is described by clinical examples, e.g. aneurysm and varix. PARAMETERS OF VASCULAR FLOW: The vascular flow can be divided into stationary and pulsating components. Both components are relevant for the bloodstream. Since the blood flow is directed in the circuit, it can be understood in first approximation as stationary ("direct current").The direct current model uses only the average values of the pulsating variables. The great advantage of the direct current model is that it can be described with simple laws, which are not valid without reservation, but often allow a first theoretical approach to a vascular problem: Ohm's law, driving pressure, flow resistance, Hagen-Poiseuille law, wall shear stress, law of continuity, Bernoulli's equation and Reynold's number are described and associated with clinical examples.The heart is a pressure-suction pump and produces a pulsating flow, the pulse. The pulse runs with pulse wave velocity, which is much larger than the blood flow velocity, through the arterial vascular system. During propagation, the pulse has to overcome the wave resistance (impedance). Wherever the wave resistance changes, e.g., at vascular bifurcations and in the periphery, it comes to reflections. The incident (forward) and reflected (backward) waves are superimposed to yield the resulting pulse wave. This pulse wave allows one to distinguish pressure and flow pulse by measurement. Both are described separately, and their respective clinical meaning is illustrated by appropriate examples, e.g., arterial stiffness and pre-/postocclusive high/low resistance flow, respectively.

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