The Essential Role of Arterial Pulse in Venous Return

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



American journal of physiology. Regulatory, integrative and comparative physiology




Neurovascular bundle; pulse pressure; venous return


The close proximity of arteries and veins is a well-known anatomical finding documented in the extremities of all vertebrates. However, the physiological consequences of this arrangement are rarely given proper consideration, nor are they covered in the textbook list of mechanisms that aid blood flow. We hypothesized that arterial pressure pulsations can significantly increase blood flow in the adjacent valve-containing vein segments. To demonstrate the existence of this mechanism, 10-15-cm sections of the bovine forelimb neurovascular bundle were isolated. The proximal and distal ends of the median artery and adjacent veins were cannulated, their tributaries were tied off, and the dissected bundle was then inserted into an airtight enclosure to mimic in vivo encasement by surrounding muscle. Pulsatile pressure was subsequently applied to the arterial segment while venous flow. At pressure settings mimicking physiological scenarios, arterial pulsations caused a highly significant increase in venous return. The amplitude of this effect was dependent on the arterial pulsation rate, stroke volume, and pressure gradient across the vein segment.


Pharmacology and Physiology