Medical Definition of Capillaries

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Capillaries: Capillaries are the smallest of blood vessels. They serve to distribute oxygenated blood from arteries to the tissues of the body and to feed deoxygenated blood from the tissues back into the veins. The capillaries are thus a central component in the circulatory system, essentially between the arteries and the veins. When pink areas of skin are compressed, this causes blanching because blood is pressed out of the capillaries. The blood is the fluid in the body that contains, among other elements, the red blood cells (erythrocytes) that carry the oxygen and give the blood its red color.

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Reviewed on 12/4/2018

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