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Adrenal Glands Adrenal glands are paired organs that lie against the roof of the abdomen cranial to the kidneys (more medial in the horse). They are retroperitoneal. They are closely associated with the aorta on the left and the caudal vena cava on the right. They consist of two layers, the outer cortex and inner medulla. The adrenal glands are elongated and often asymmetrical, as they are moulded to surrounding vessels. Their size is variable - in juveniles they are larger, and they are also larger in lactating or pregnant animals. The adrenal glands of a medium-sized dog measure around 2.5x1x0.5cm.
The adrenal glands develop from the neural crest ectoderm and the intermediate mesoderm. The medulla originates from the neural crest cells migrating from the sympathetic ganglion. Mesodermal cells then surround the neural crest cell, and the adrenal cortex develops from these. The gland is fully developed by 4 months of age. The glands are supplied by the superior, middle and inferior suprarenal arteries, which branch before entering the adrenal capsule. Within the capsule, they branch again to give capsule capillaries, cortical sinusoidal capillaries and medullary arteries. The fenestrated sinusoidal capillaires supply the cortex then drain into fenestrated medullary capillary sinusoids. The medulla there receives a dual blood supply, with venous blood from the cortex and a direct arterial supply from the medullary arteries. After perfusion, deoxygenated blood drains into adrenomedullary collecting veins and then pools in a central adrenomedullary vein, which empties in the caudal vena cava.
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