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BACKGROUND: It has been documented that cardiac musculature is present in both venae cavae, and they contract together with the atrium, contributing to the pumping mechanism of the heart. So, in the present study, we measured the relative thicknesses of the three histological layers at formation, termination and intermediate levels of the venae cavae along with their histological characteristics.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Ten foetal and 10 adult cadavers were used. The Superior and Inferior Venae Cavae from all three regions were excised and processed for histology. The qualitative and quantitative features of the vessels were observed and recorded. The data thus obtained was then assessed statistically.
RESULTS: In superior vena cava, the tunica intima grows actively especially during late gestation. The tunica media shows active growth. The tunica adventitia growth is significant at the middle and termination levels. In inferior vena cava, the tunica intima grows actively at the level of formation. The tunica media shows the active overall growth during early gestation. The tunica adventitia shows active growth during late gestation. In qualitative analysis the plump, spindle-shaped primitive mesenchymal cells were observed. Muscle and collagen fibers show reciprocal abundance with increasing age, with the former being lesser in amount than the latter in earlier stages. Appearance of vasa vasorum was notable from 2nd trimester. The cardiac myocytes were located in the middle and outer tunics of the superior vena cava.
CONCLUSION: Cardiac musculature was absent in the inferior vena; however, the vessel shows advanced rate of overall development.