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J Vasc Res. 2002 Jul-Aug;39(4):368-72.

OPS imaging of human microcirculation: a short technical report.

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Institute of Anesthesiology, Deutsches Herzzentrum Berlin, Berlin, Germany.


Despite the pivotal role of microcirculation in numerous diseases, techniques for the direct assessment of human microcirculation are limited. A new approach based on orthogonal polarization spectral (OPS) imaging (Cytoscan microscope) allows noninvasive observation of human microcirculation in all accessible tissue surfaces. Limitations remain: application of pressure with the instrument affects blood flow, lateral movement of tissue precludes continuous investigation of a given microvascular region, and blood flow velocities above 1 mm/s cannot be measured. We addressed these problems by (a) constructing an attachment to the probe, preventing direct contact of the instrument with the observed tissue area and allowing fixation of the tissue, and (b) implementing a double-flash spatial correlation technique extending the measuring range for blood flow velocities up to approximately 40 mm/s. The modified approach was tested in vitro and in vivo. Velocity readings correlated well with velocities of an external standard (r(2) = 0.99, range 1.9-33.8 mm/s). Pulsatile flow patterns synchronous with heart rate with maximal velocities of about 10 mm/s could be detected in arterioles of the human sublingual mucosa. The modified instrument may prove useful to investigate the microcirculation in the context of research, diagnosis and therapy control.

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