Siphon mechanism in collapsible tubes: application to circulation of the giraffe head

Controversy exists over the principles involved in determining blood flow to the head of a giraffe, specifically over the role of gravity pressure (pgh) in the collapsible jugular vein in facilitating uphill flow in arteries. This study investigates pressures within vertically oriented models containing both rigid and collapsible tubes. An inverted U-tube was constructed (height = 103 cm) of thick rubber tubing in the ascending limb and collapsible dialysis tubing in the descending limb. Water flow was induced by a variable speed pump maintained at the reservoir level such that the descending limb was partially collapsed. Pressure measurements were made at various levels within the U tube by two methods: 1 ) with the transducer at same level as the tip of the water-filled catheter and 2) with the transducer at the reservoir level. During flow, the pressure at any point was nearly atmospheric along the length of the descending limb. Such methods of obtaining pressure indicated that the pressure gradient within the partially collapsed descending limb was the sum of viscous flow pressure (P 1 -P 2 of Poiseuille) and gravitational pressure (pgh). To study the facilitatory effect of a siphon, the descending limb was compared with a horizontally placed limb (length= 100 cm), and the flow was kept constant. Calculations of hydraulic "work" (pressure x flow) indicated that with a partially collapsed descending limb, work of the pump was reduced by 15% compared with uphill flow to the elevated horizontal position. It is concluded that the siphon mechanism operates in a partially collapsed descending limb of a siphon loop.

Last Updated
April 1, 2021