Blood Supply to the Integument of the Abdomen of the Rat: A Surgical Perspective

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Many fundamental questions regarding the blood supply to the integument of the rat remain to be clarified, namely the degree of homology between rat and humans. The aim of this work was to characterize in detail the macro and microvascular blood supply to the integument covering the ventrolateral aspect of the abdominal wall of the rat.


Two hundred five Wistar male rats weighing 250–350 g were used. They were submitted to gross anatomical dissection after intravascular colored latex injection (n = 30); conversion in modified Spalteholz cleared specimens (n=10); intravascular injection of a Perspex solution, and then corroded, in order to produce vascular corrosion casts of the vessels in the region (n = 5); histological studies (n = 20); scanning electron microscopy of vascular corrosion casts (n = 10); surgical dissection of the superficial caudal epigastric vessels (n = 100); and to thermographic evaluation (n = 30).


The ventrolateral abdominal wall presented a dominant superficial vascular system, which was composed mainly of branches from the superficial caudal epigastric artery and vein in the caudal half. The cranial half still received significant arterial contributions from the lateral thoracic artery in all cases and from large perforators coming from the intercostal arteries and from the deep cranial epigastric artery.


These data show that rats and humans present a great deal of homology regarding the blood supply to the ventrolateral aspect of the abdominal integument. However, there are also significant differences that must be taken into consideration when performing and interpreting experimental procedures in rats.

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