The pig is frequently used as an experimental model for studies of the pulmonary circulation, yet the branching and dimensional geometry of the pulmonary vasculature remains poorly defined. The purposes of this study are to improve the geometric definition of the porcine pulmonary arteries, and to determine whether the arterial tree exhibits self-similarity in its branching geometry. Five animals were imaged using thin slice spiral computed tomography in the prone posture during airway inflation pressure at 25 cmH2O. The luminal diameter and distance from the inlet of the left and right pulmonary arteries were measured along the left and right main arterial pathway in each lung. A further six minor pathways were measured in a single animal. The similarity in the rate of reduction of diameter with distance of all minor pathways and the two main pathways, along with similarity in the number of branches arising along the pathways, supports self-similarity in the arterial tree. The rate of reduction in diameter with distance from the inlet was not significantly different between the five animals (p > 0.48) when normalized for main pulmonary artery diameter and total main artery pathlength, which supports inter-subject similarity. Other metrics to quantify the tree geometry are strikingly similar to those from airways of other quadrupeds, with the exception of a significantly larger length to diameter ratio, which is more appropriate for the vascular tree. A simplifying self-similar model for the porcine pulmonary arteries is proposed, to capture the important geometric features of the arterial tree.
- In-vivo volumetric MDCT imaging
- pulmonary vascular geometric measurements
- pulmonary arterial diameter
- porcine model
- Copyright © 2012, Journal of Applied Physiology