Department of Cell Biology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.
Resistance in blood vessels is directly related to the inner (luminal) diameter (ID). However, ID can be difficult to measure during physiological experiments because of poor transillumination of thick-walled or tightly constricted vessels. We investigated whether the wall cross-sectional area (WCSA) in cannulated arteries is nearly constant, allowing IDs to be calculated from outer diameters (OD) using a single determination of WCSA. With the use of image analysis, OD and ID were directly measured using either transillumination or a fluorescent marker in the lumen. IDs from a variety of vessel types were calculated from WCSA at several reference pressures. Calculated IDs at all of the reference WCSA were within 5% (mean <1%) of the corresponding measured IDs in all vessel types studied, including vessels from heterozygote elastin knockout animals. This was true over a wide range of transmural pressures, during treatment with agonists, and before and after treatment with KCN. In conclusion, WCSA remains virtually constant in cannulated vessels, allowing accurate determination of ID from OD measurement under a variety of experimental conditions.