Analyzing the human liver vascular architecture by combining vascular corrosion casting and micro-CT scanning : a feasibility study
Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences. Veterinary Sciences
Journal of anatomy. - London
, p. 509-517
University of Antwerp
Although a full understanding of the hepatic circulation is one of the keys to successfully perform liver surgery and to elucidate liver pathology, relatively little is known about the functional organization of the liver vasculature. Therefore, we materialized and visualized the human hepatic vasculature at different scales, and performed a morphological analysis by combining vascular corrosion casting with novel micro-computer tomography (CT) and image analysis techniques. A human liver vascular corrosion cast was obtained by simultaneous resin injection in the hepatic artery (HA) and portal vein (PV). A high resolution (110 mu m) micro-CT scan of the total cast allowed gathering detailed macrovascular data. Subsequently, a mesocirculation sample (starting at generation 5; 88 x 68 x 80 mm(3)) and a microcirculation sample (terminal vessels including sinusoids; 2.0 x 1.5 x 1.7 mm(3)) were dissected and imaged at a 71-mu m and 2.6-mu m resolution, respectively. Segmentations and 3D reconstructions allowed quantifying the macro- and mesoscale branching topology, and geometrical features of HA, PV and hepatic venous trees up to 13 generations (radii ranging from 13.2 mm to 80 mu m; lengths from 74.4 mm to 0.74 mm), as well as microvascular characteristics (mean sinusoidal radius of 6.63 mu m). Combining corrosion casting and micro-CT imaging allows quantifying the branching topology and geometrical features of hepatic trees using a multiscale approach from the macro- down to the microcirculation. This may lead to novel insights into liver circulation, such as internal blood flow distributions and anatomical consequences of pathologies (e.g. cirrhosis).