Pulse-wave propagation in the arterial system of the diamond python Morelia spilotes

Alberto P. Avolio, M. F. O'Rourke, Marion E D Webster

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    Pulse-wave velocity (PWV) and pulse-wave amplification (PWA) were measured over a proximal [51 +/- 3 (SE) cm] and distal segment (60 +/- 6 cm) of the common descending aorta of 10 anesthetized diamond python snakes (Morelia spilotes). For proximal and distal segments, PWV values were 551 +/- 66 and 921 +/- 116 cm/s and PWA were 0.91 +/- 0.05 and 0.91 +/- 0.06, respectively. PWV for proximal and distal segments were significantly different (P less than 0.02), but PWA were not. PWA for separate harmonics of heart frequency showed no significant increase above unity. Increase of PWV between distal and proximal aorta indicates a reduction in arterial distensibility, a phenomenon that in other species is associated with amplification of the pressure pulse; this was not observed in snakes. Using a simple elastic tube model 56 cm in length and 3 mm in diameter it was found that the amplification produced by the measured PWV changes is offset by attenuation due to viscous damping. Thus similarity of pulse-wave contour throughout the snake's aorta is attributable to the opposing effects of elastic nonuniformity and viscous damping.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)R831-R836
    Number of pages6
    JournalThe American journal of physiology
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 1983


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