Hemodynamics of vascular 'waterfall': is the analogy justified?

Respir Physiol. 1992 Feb;87(2):205-17. doi: 10.1016/0034-5687(92)90060-a.


The concept of 'vascular waterfall' has been used for collapsible vessels in different hemodynamic states which have little similarity to each other from a dynamic standpoint. Examples include (a) flow through large systemic veins entering the thorax, (b) flow through microvessels, such as pulmonary, cardiac, hepatic, cerebral, and (c) flow through the jugular vein of the giraffe. The dynamics of freely falling liquids (waterfall) as compared with flow through collapsible blood vessels (in vivo and in vitro) and in collapsible tubes are dissimilar in too many respects to justify analogy. The flow through collapsible tubes and blood vessels can be explained satisfactorily on the basis of elementary principles of fluid mechanics (Bernoulli-Poiseuille). Hence, the term waterfall as a metaphor is misleading and unjustified. We suggest that the use of the term be discontinued for describing vascular dynamics.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Vessels / physiology*
  • Hemodynamics
  • Humans
  • Models, Cardiovascular
  • Vascular Resistance