Optimal lymphatic vessel structure. Conference Paper uri icon


  • Lymphatic vessels transport excess interstitial fluid from the low-pressure tissues to the higher pressure veins. The basic structural unit of lymphatic vessels is the lymphangion, a segment of the vessel separated by two unidirectional valves. Lymphangions cyclically contract like ventricles and can actively pump lymph. Lymphangions, as conduit vessels, also can act as arteries, and resist lymph flow. Functional parameters such as pressures, flow, and efficiency are determined by structural parameters like length, radius, and wall thickness. Since these structural parameters are unalterable experimentally, we developed a computational model to study the effect of a particular structural parameter, lymphangion length, to a particular functional variable, lymph flow. The model predicts that flow is a bimodal function of length, exhibiting an optimal length in the same order of magnitude as that observed experimentally. In essence, when the length to radius ratio is small, lymphangions act more like ventricles, where longer lengths yield greater chamber volume and thus lymph pumped. When the length to radius ratio is large, lymphangions act more like arteries, where longer lengths yield greater resistances to flow. This approach provides the means to explore how lymphatic vessel structure is optimized in a variety of conditions.

name of conference

  • The 26th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society

published proceedings

  • Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Venugopal, A. M., Stewart, R. H., Rajagopalan, S., Laine, G. A., & Quick, C. M.

citation count

  • 3

complete list of authors

  • Venugopal, AM||Stewart, RH||Rajagopalan, S||Laine, GA||Quick, CM

publication date

  • December 2004