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Crit Care. 2012 Jun 19;16(3):224. doi: 10.1186/cc11236.

Clinical review: Clinical imaging of the sublingual microcirculation in the critically ill--where do we stand?


A growing body of evidence exists associating depressed microcirculatory function and morbidity and mortality in a wide array of clinical scenarios. It has been suggested that volume replacement therapy using fluids and/or blood in combination with vasoactive agents to modulate macro- and microvascular perfusion might be essential for resuscitation of severely septic patients. Even after interventions effectively optimizing macrocirculatory hemodynamics, however, high mortality rates still persist in critically ill and especially in septic patients. Therefore, rather than limiting therapy to macrocirculatory targets alone, microcirculatory targets could be incorporated to potentially reduce mortality rates in these critically ill patients. In the present review we first provide a brief history of clinical imaging of the microcirculation and describe how microcirculatory imaging has been of prognostic value in intensive care patients. We then give an overview of therapies potentially improving the microcirculation in critically ill patients and propose a clinical trial aimed at demonstrating that therapy targeting improvement of the microcirculation results in improved organ function in patients with severe sepsis and septic shock. We end with some recent technological advances in clinical microcirculatory image acquisition and analysis.

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