Structural morphology of renal vasculature

David A. Nordsletten, Shane Blackett, Michael D. Bentley, Erik L. Ritman, Nicolas P. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

107 Scopus citations


An automatic segmentation technique has been developed and applied to two renal micro-computer tomography (CT) images. With the use of a 20-μm voxel resolution image, the arterial and venous trees were segmented for the rat renal vasculature, distinguishing resolving vessels down to 30 μm in radius. A higher resolution 4-μm voxel image of a renal vascular subtree, with vessel radial values down to 10 μm, was segmented. Strahler ordering was applied to each subtree using an iterative scheme developed to integrate information from the two segmented models to reconstruct the complete topology of the entire vascular tree. An error analysis of the assigned orders quantified the robustness of the ordering process for the full model. Radial, length, and connectivity data of the complete arterial and venous trees are reported by order. Substantial parallelism is observed between individual arteries and veins, and the ratio of parallel vessel radii is quantified via a power law. A strong correlation with Murray's Law was established, providing convincing evidence of the "minimum work" hypothesis. Results were compared with theoretical branch angle formulations, based on the principles of "minimum shear force," were inconclusive. Three-dimensional reconstructions of renal vascular trees collected are made freely available1 for further investigation into renal physiology and modeling studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H296-H309
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2006


  • Kidney
  • Renal modeling
  • Strahler ordering
  • Vascular reconstruction
  • Vascular statistics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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