Pflügers Archiv : European journal of physiology vol:408 issue:2 pages:160-6
The dimensional variations of the superior vena cava throughout the cardiac cycle were investigated by means of angiographic and ultrasonic techniques. Results obtained by both methods were largely in agreement. In frontal direction the diameter curve resembled the transmural pressure variations, the sagittal diameter curve was not related to the venous pressure variations during certain phases of the cardiac cycle and compressional and/or stretching forces exerted by respectively the distending aorta and/or pulmonary artery and the contracting heart may have been responsible. Also segment length variations occurred: during atrial contraction, ventricular systole and early diastole the vein elongated, indicating the varying longitudinal traction forces, possibly exerted by the rotational movement of the contracting heart. Assuming elliptical symmetry the vena caval cross-section could be reconstructed, and the cross-sectional area, perimeter and segmental volume could be calculated throughout the cardiac cycle. Despite the high venous distensibility, no extreme collapse of the vein was observed during the cardiac cycle at low transmural pressures.