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The smooth muscle layers of the tunica media are supported by a framework of collagenous fibers that also binds the tunica media to the inner and outer tunics. Along with the collagenous fibers are large numbers of elastic fibers that appear as wavy lines in prepared slides. Separating the tunica media from the outer tunica externa in larger arteries is the external elastic membrane    (also called the external elastic lamina), which also appears wavy in slides. This structure is not usually seen in smaller arteries, nor is it seen in veins.

Tunica externa

The outer tunic, the tunica externa    (also called the tunica adventitia), is a substantial sheath of connective tissue composed primarily of collagenous fibers. Some bands of elastic fibers are found here as well. The tunica externa in veins also contains groups of smooth muscle fibers. This is normally the thickest tunic in veins and may be thicker than the tunica media in some larger arteries. The outer layers of the tunica externa are not distinct but rather blend with the surrounding connective tissue outside the vessel, helping to hold the vessel in relative position. If you are able to palpate some of the superficial veins on your upper limbs and try to move them, you will find that the tunica externa prevents this. If the tunica externa did not hold the vessel in place, any movement would likely result in disruption of blood flow.


An artery    is a blood vessel that conducts blood away from the heart. All arteries have relatively thick walls that can withstand the high pressure of blood ejected from the heart. However, those close to the heart have the thickest walls, containing a high percentage of elastic fibers in all three of their tunics. This type of artery is known as an elastic artery    ( [link] ). Vessels larger than 10 mm in diameter are typically elastic. Their abundant elastic fibers allow them to expand, as blood pumped from the ventricles passes through them, and then to recoil after the surge has passed. If artery walls were rigid and unable to expand and recoil, their resistance to blood flow would greatly increase and blood pressure would rise to even higher levels, which would in turn require the heart to pump harder to increase the volume of blood expelled by each pump (the stroke volume) and maintain adequate pressure and flow. Artery walls would have to become even thicker in response to this increased pressure. The elastic recoil of the vascular wall helps to maintain the pressure gradient that drives the blood through the arterial system. An elastic artery is also known as a conducting artery, because the large diameter of the lumen enables it to accept a large volume of blood from the heart and conduct it to smaller branches.

Types of arteries and arterioles

The left panel shows the cross-section of an elastic artery, the middle panel shows the cross section of a muscular artery, and the right panel shows the cross-section of an arteriole.
Comparison of the walls of an elastic artery, a muscular artery, and an arteriole is shown. In terms of scale, the diameter of an arteriole is measured in micrometers compared to millimeters for elastic and muscular arteries.

Farther from the heart, where the surge of blood has dampened, the percentage of elastic fibers in an artery’s tunica intima decreases and the amount of smooth muscle in its tunica media increases. The artery at this point is described as a muscular artery    . The diameter of muscular arteries typically ranges from 0.1 mm to 10 mm. Their thick tunica media allows muscular arteries to play a leading role in vasoconstriction. In contrast, their decreased quantity of elastic fibers limits their ability to expand. Fortunately, because the blood pressure has eased by the time it reaches these more distant vessels, elasticity has become less important.

Questions & Answers

Card 5 / 12: For whom would an appreciation of the structural characteristics of the human heart come more easily: an alien who lands on Earth, abducts a human, and dissects his heart, or an anatomy and physiology student performing a dissection of the heart on her very first day of class? Why?
Gelowe Reply
what are regular shaped cells with granules in the cytoplasam
Kabita Reply
I need sylubuss of clinical officers book
Omary Reply
cholesterol normal value is
less than 200mg/dl
100 to159mg/dL
Early this wk. I had some "A & P" questions & answers unfortunately didn't save them, Is there any way I can have them back ,so as 2 save them?. Thnx.
what are the functions of the female reproductive system
Lister Reply
it produces the female egg necessary for reproduction, called the Ova or Oocytes. The system is designed to transport the Ova to the site of fertilization.
Female reproductive system was mainly functioned to produce ova(ovum) (female eggs) Into which will be fertilized by male gamete to produce zygote
absolutely right
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wxayaabaha qaarkood waaa in aan u feejignaano
asc if I try female reproductive system has two function the first is to produce egg cell and the second is to protact and nourish the offspring until birth
what is stercobilinogen
Hancerich Reply
fecal urobilinogen. Created by bacteria in the gut. a chemical that gives feces brown color.
next question pls.
The rate of diffusion increases if the
What's the answer?
it's a breaking down of haemoglobin and it's a chemical made by bacteria
Thnx Dev Raj.
yup so any more
yes I sure do need more "Questions" & "Answers". I'm learning whole lot. Thnx.
what is the greatest muscle of the body
Lungu Reply
gluteus maximus
pls!!! more "A&P" questions & answers. Thnx.
Gluteus maximus
Describe anatomy of cardiovascular system?
cardiovascular system is a group of organs coming together to perform the circulation of blood. The organs invoked are the heart and the blood vessels with blood being the tissue. The heart is a pump and it pumps oxygenated blood through the systemic circuit and deoxygenated blood through the pulmon
pulmonary circuit.
more A&P questions pls. Thnx.
If an ANOVA yields a significant F value, you could rely on ________ to test significant differences between group means.
Dane Reply
what's ANOVA
analysis of variance
plz what you mean with "ANOVA" first
anova means analysis of variance, a statistical method in which the variation in a set of observations is divided into distinct components.
M value ot test
What does it mean by M value ot test?
formation of red blood cells
Biketi Reply
explain why... lower back pain in ovarian cancer
Srijoni Reply
we says that protoplasm is the living part of us How?
Muzamil Reply
is the leaving part of our cellular structure.
it is the leaving part of our blood cellular structure also
what is receptor?
Preity Reply
an organ or cell able to respond to light, heat, or other external stimulus and transmit a signal to a sensory nerve.
Has anyone taken the first exam?
hey what is the process after your food is swallowed? how long does it take to get to the stomache until it is released as waste?
Fednise Reply
that is such a broad question. as you begin to swallow its various doses down the alimentary canal that brings the food into your stomach.then depending on whether it's a protein carbohydrate fat that dictates what function takes place in your stomach. these are all steps of digestion.
typo sorry it's peristalsis , wave-like projections that push food down your alimentary canal etc. digestion starts in your mouth ends in your large intestines (colon anus)
some of the many processes of digestion include hydrolysis dehydration synthesis denaturation of proteins etc. you have to be more specific.
there's many different contributing factors the how long it takes food to convert into waste. remember fats, triglycerides proteins and carbohydrates all breakdown two different monomers and structures. you should be looking up metabolic processes.
depending how much fiber you have in your diet dictates how much water is brought to your intestines that has to do with excretion whether fiber is insoluble or soluble. this is an anatomy and physiology app. to simply say the stomach will empty its contents in 2 to 3 hours would do you a disservice
can the study of anatomy relate to medical technologies
Lean Reply
how can I understand micro biology and anatomy better.
someone to help me understand glycogeneogenesis
what are the major branches of the aorta?
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