What is the anatomy of the abdominal aorta?

Updated: Jan 08, 2019
  • Author: Saum A Rahimi, MD, FACS; Chief Editor: Vincent Lopez Rowe, MD  more...
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Answer

The abdominal aorta has three distinct tissue layers: intima, media, and adventitia. The intima is composed of the classic endothelial layer. The media comprises smooth muscle cells surrounded by elastin, collagen, and proteoglycans; to a great extent, this layer is responsible for the structural and elastic properties of the artery. The adventitia consists primarily of collagen but also contains a variety of cells (including fibroblasts and immunomodulatory cells), as well as adrenergic nerves.

The diameter of the aorta decreases from its thoracic portion to its abdominal and infrarenal portions. A normal aorta shows a reduction in medial elastin layers from the thoracic portion to the abdominal portion. Elastin content and collagen content are also reduced.


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