Vasa recta

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Artery: Vasa recta
Kidney nephron.png
A nephron, the vasa recta is labelled arteria recta
Latin arteriolae rectae renis
Gray's subject #253 1224
Source Arcuate arteries of the kidney, efferent arteriole   
Branches Straight venules of kidney, arcuate vein
Dorlands
/ Elsevier
    
a_62/12156708

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For the intestinal structure, see Vasa recta (intestines)

In the blood supply of the kidney, the vasa recta renis (or straight arteries of kidney, or straight arterioles of kidney) form a series of straight capillaries (recta is from the Latin for "straight") that descend from the cortex into the medulla.

These vessels branch off of the efferent arterioles of juxtamedullary nephrons (those nephrons closest to the medulla), enter the medulla, and surround the loop of Henle.

Histology

On a slide, vasa recta can be distinguished from the tubules of the loop of Henle by the presence of blood.[1]

Function

Each of the vasa recta has a hairpin turn in the medulla and carries blood at a very slow rate, two factors crucial in the maintenance of countercurrent exchange that prevent washout of the concentration gradients established in the renal medulla.[2]

The maintenance of this concentration gradient is one of the components responsible for the kidney's ability to produce concentrated urine.

Nomenclature

According to Terminologia Anatomica[3], the term "vasa recta renis" is an alternate name for "arteriolae rectae renis", and a separate term, venulae rectae renis, is used to identify the venous portion.

However, other sources consider "vasa recta renis" to refer to both the arterial and venous portions.[4]

The "renis" is often omitted, but there do exist two other structures with the same name:

Pathology

The slow blood flow in vasa recta makes them a likely place of thrombosis in hypercoagulable states, or erythrocyte sickling in sickle cell disease. Ischemia that results may lead to renal papillary necrosis.

References

  1. Histology at Boston University 15802loa
  2. Physiology at MCG 7/7ch08/7ch08p07
  3. a_62/12156708 at Dorland's Medical Dictionary
  4. Histology at Boston University 15804loa
  5. Norman/Georgetown jejunumileum
  6. vasa+recta at eMedicine Dictionary

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