Branching morphology of the rat hepatic portal vein tree: A micro-CT study

Jorn Op Den Buijs, Željko Bajzer, Erik L. Ritman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


In contrast to the lung and the myocardium, the liver is a relatively homogeneous organ with fewer anatomic constraints on vascular branching. Hence, we hypothesize that the hepatic vasculature could more closely follow optimization of branching geometry than is the case in other organs. The geometrical and fractal properties of the rat hepatic portal vein tree were investigated, with the aid of three-dimensional micro-computed tomography data. Frequency distributions of vessel radii were obtained at three different voxel resolutions and fitted to a theoretical model of dichotomous branching. The model predicted an average junction exponent of 3.09. Hemodynamic model calculations showed that with generation, relative shear stress decreases. Branching angles were found to oscillate between those predicted by two optimality principles of minimum power loss and volume, and of minimum shear stress and surface. The liver shows a variation in branching morphology similar to that of other organs. Therefore, we conclude that anatomic constraints do not have a major perturbing impact.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1420-1428
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of Biomedical Engineering
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2006


  • Blood flow
  • Fractality
  • Liver
  • Murray's law
  • Optimality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering


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