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J Invest Surg. 1999 Jul-Aug;12(4):179-93.

Evaluation of hepatic microcirculation by in vivo microscopy.

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Department of Ophthalmology, University of Leipzig, Germany.


In vivo microscopy is an excellent technique for investigating the microcirculation and until recently the only one that allowed direct visualization. Rat liver has been widely studied, because microcirculatory disorders play a pivotal role in the pathogenesis of organ failure during hepatic ischemia, transplantation, hemorrhagic shock, endotoxemia, and sepsis. The state of the microcirculation is an important prognostic factor for the reestablishment of organ function after these injuries. This article introduces the most common procedures for in vivo microscopy of the rat liver, summarizes the available fluorescent dyes, and gives an overview of criteria for the expression and evaluation of microscopic findings. Particular emphasis is given to a description of the different parameters assessed by direct observation of hepatic microcirculation, such as perfusion rate, leukocyte-endothelium interactions, leukocyte velocities, and phagocytic activity. Examples of normal range values are given. This overview is intended to help those wanting to introduce this method into their research and who are embarking on intravital microscopy for the first time, and to enable them to decide which techniques are appropriate for answering special questions.

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