The Vasa Nervorum & the Vasa Vasorum, What is the difference?
At their core, the Vasa Nervorum (VN) and the Vasa Vasorum (VV) just in two different locations within the body. The Vasa Nervorum are small blood vessels that travel directly parallel to the peripheral nervous system and supply the nerves, and their coverings, with oxygenated blood.
There are different ways that the Vasa Nervorum can be disrupted. Both nerve stretch and compression injuries can damage the vessel itself. This nerve damage can commonly lead to nerve ischemia, a tear in the connective tissue, or lead to necrosis or potential hemorrhaging.
When there is substantial damage to the Vasa Nervorum, the worst case scenario is the stretch or compression stress placed on the nerve leads to, as described by sciencedirect.com, an axonometric injury. An axonometric injury is when the axon is completely destroyed due to the acute stress beyond the vessel’s yield point causing a rupture, inhibiting the ability for the nerve to get oxygenated blood and properly innervate the muscles connected to it.
The Vasa Vasorum, on the other hand, is located in larger arteries and veins such as the aorta, or superior vena cava. The name describes the location of the VV quite with it being a translation of the Latin ‘the vessels of vessels’. The VV travels parallel along any major artery or vein within the body to make sure that there is a sufficient amount of blood being distributed to the tissue itself. If the VV is damaged, the artery it supplies will then lose its supply of oxygenated blood. Due to the absence of blood, you can have cell death leading to weakening walls of an artery or vein, or plaque development.
The VN and the VV serve the same purpose throughout the body; however in different locations. The VV serves to supply the arteries, veins, and muscles with their blood supply. In comparison to the VN which is primarily focused on the peripheral nervous system. Both run in parallel to their respective tissues, and both serve as a much underappreciated system within the body to maintain proper tissue life and function.