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Cardiac shunting and blood flow distribution in the American alligator (ALLIGATOR MISSISSIPPIENSIS) Ostlin, Janice Christine


The cardiac and circulatory anatomy of the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) is unique in that both the cardiac and systemic circulatory systems display anatomical divisions. This situation may also be of physiological significance to the animal. The purpose of this study was to determine regional blood flow distribution in the alligator, with respect to cardiac blood flow patterns. Animals were instrumented with flow and pressure recorders, and monitored over extended time periods. Fluorescent microspheres capable of being entrapped in tissue capillary beds were introduced into both the right and left aortas under various conditions. Blood flow distribution to tissues during the presence or absence of a pulmonary to systemic (P->S shunt) was of primary interest. Tissue samples depicted a significant separation in the perfusion patterns of the right and left aortas. The right aorta primarily perfused the brain and liver, and to a lesser extent, the digestive system organs. The left aorta perfused the digestive tract organs, including the spleen. Dissection of the circulatory paths of the right and left aortas determined this anatomical division. Possible differences in the left aortic distribution of right ventricular (shunted) blood as compared to left ventricular (not shunted) blood were noted.

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