Elastic arteries consist of three primary components: elastin fibers, extracellular collagen matrix and smooth muscle cells. However, the relative contribution of elastin and collagen fibers to overall ultrasonic scattering from an intact arterial wall is poorly understood. To define the principal source of extracellular scattering from the medial layer of elastic arteries, canine ascending aortas (n = 10) were excised, fixed and sectioned for insonification. Subsequently, aortic specimens were restudied after treatment to dissolve all tissue components except extracellular collagen matrix (n = 5) and elastin fibers (n = 5). Histological staining revealed very few elastin fibers and sparse intact collagen in collagen-isolated and elastin- isolated tissues, respectively. Integrated backscatter, attenuation and backscatter coefficients differentiated these two treated tissues. The backscatter coefficient for elastin-isolated tissue demonstrated a fivefold increase over collagen-isolated tissue, suggesting that elastin fibers represent a primary scattering component within elastic arteries, and the collagen fibers may provide a secondary component of scattering.
- Elastic arteries