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Capillary Fluid Exchange
Capillary Fluid Flow

This image demonstrates the fluid flow between capillaries and body tissues.

Capillary to Tissue Fluid Exchange

Capillaries are where fluids, gasses, nutrients, and wastes are exchanged between the blood and body tissues by diffusion. Capillary walls contain small pores that allow certain substances to pass into and out of the blood vessel. Fluid exchange is controlled by blood pressure within the capillary vessel (hydrostatic pressure) and osmotic pressure of the blood within the vessel. The osmotic pressure is produced by high concentrations of salts and plasma proteins in the blood. The capillary walls allow water and small solutes to pass between its pores but does not allow proteins to pass through.
  • As blood enters the capillary bed on the arteriole end, the blood pressure in the capillary vessel is greater than the osmotic pressure of the blood in the vessel. The net result is that fluid moves from the vessel to the body tissue.

  • At the middle of the capillary bed, blood pressure in the vessel equals the osmotic pressure of the blood in the vessel. The net result is that fluid passes equally between the capillary vessel and the body tissue. Gasses, nutrients, and wastes are also exchanged at this point.

  • On the venule end of the capillary bed, blood pressure in the vessel is less than the osmotic pressure of the blood in the vessel. The net result is that fluid, carbon dioxide and wastes are drawn from the body tissue into the capillary vessel.

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