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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 1994 Feb;35(2):608-18.

Local choroidal blood flow in the cat by laser Doppler flowmetry.

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  • 1University of Pennsylvania, Department of Ophthalmology, Philadelphia.



To develop a procedure using a noninvasive technique that will allow the investigation of choroidal blood flow (ChBF) regulation in discrete regions of the cat eye. Validation of this procedure will provide a method to study intrinsic, neural, and pharmacologic factors that regulate regional ChBF.


The technique to measure ChBF is based on laser Doppler flowmetry. However, in contrast to conventional laser Doppler flowmetry, which uses fiber-optic probes in direct contact with the tissue to deliver the laser beam and detect the scattered light, with this technique the beam is delivered through a fundus camera and the scattered light is detected in the retinal image plane of the camera. Measurements were made in 34 anesthetized cats under conditions that would ensure that the flow measured represented ChBF in the choriocapillaris: the laser beam was aimed at retinal intervascular sites in the tapetal region of the fundus; the Doppler shift power spectrum of the light scattered by the red blood cells had the shape and frequency range typical for a microvascular bed; and the recorded flow did not decrease by more than 5% when the cat was given 100% O2 to breathe for 4 minutes. The responses to various physiologic and pharmacologic stimuli were tested and compared with those obtained from retinal vessels.


Intravenous infusions of acetylcholine increased ChBF in a dose-response fashion, whereas sympathetic nerve stimulation at various frequencies decreased ChBF as predicted by previous studies. By comparison, retinal blood flow was negligibly affected by these two stimuli. In contrast to retinal blood flow, ChBF was unaffected by diffuse luminance flicker. ChBF was found to be pulsatile. The mean of the pulsatile component of ChBF represented approximately 34% of mean ChBF, a value similar to those derived from ChBF measurements in minipigs and retinal blood flow in the cat.


This study demonstrates that laser Doppler flowmetry is a valid technique for obtaining local, noninvasive, and continuous recordings of relative ChBF. Tested under steady-state conditions for blood pressure, heart rate, and acid-base balance, ChBF is stable for long periods of time, allowing the investigation of the effect of various physiologic stimuli and pharmacologic agents on this flow.

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