Casts of small intestinal blood vessels and lymphatics in the rabbit were made with methacrylate and observed under a scanning electron microscope (SEM). In casting the lymphatics, a specially diluted low viscosity medium was injected intraparenchymally into the intestinal submucosa. This parenchymal injection allowed good reproduction of fine lymphatics, including the initial lacteals in the villi. The central lacteals were completely surrounded externally by the subepithelial blood capillary networks of the intestinal villi. Individual villi in the lower intestine contained only one central lacteal that drained through a thin lymphatic in the glandular layer into the submucosal lymphatic plexus. Villi in the upper small intestine were broader than those in the lower small intestine, and contained two to five lacteals. They anastomosed with each other at the villous base and formed a markedly expanded sinus. The cast submucosal lymphatics frequently showed constrictions strongly suggestive of valves. It was constantly observed that well-developed lymphatics in the submucosa ran in pairs and held an arteriole or artery between them. This close association of the lymphatics with arteries suggests that arterial vasomotion might provide an important hydrodynamic energy source for lymph formation and transport.
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