Histological Description of the Lumen

Figure 9.1 shows the 3-D view of the cross section of the lumen. Figure 9.2 shows the histological cross section of the artery. There are three layers in the walls of both arteries and veins:

Figure 9.2: Histology image of the arterial cross section.

1. Tunica intima: It is the innermost layer which consists of the endothelium (a simple squamous epithelium) and a small amount of underlying connective tissue. In arteries it also includes the internal elastic lamina, which is often seen as a thick wavy band surrounding the lumen of the vessel.

2. Tunica media: This is the middle layer made up mainly of smooth muscle cells. In arteries it is the thickest layer.

3. Tunica adventitia: It is the outer layer made up of loose connective tissue (collagen fibers, fibroblasts) along with some smooth muscle cells. It is the thickest layer in veins (particularly the larger veins).

Thus we see that quantification of walls and the classification of plaque components is of utmost importance. In the next section we discuss the research groups who have done work in this direction.

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