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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2005 Apr;98(4):1334-40. Epub 2004 Dec 3.

Reproducibility of the cold-induced vasodilation response in the human finger.

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Thermal and Mountain Medicine Div., U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine Natick, MA 01760-5007, USA.


Cold-induced vasodilation (CIVD) is a cyclic oscillation in blood flow that occurs in the extremities on cold exposure and that is likely associated with reduced risk of cold injury (e.g., frostbite) as well as improved manual dexterity and less pain while working in the cold. The CIVD response varies between individuals, but the within-subject reproducibility has not been adequately described. The purpose of this study was to quantify the within-subject variability in the CIVD response under standardized conditions. Twenty-one volunteers resting in a controlled environment (27 degrees C) immersed the middle finger in warm water (42 degrees C) for 15 min to standardize initial finger temperature and then in cold water (4 degrees C; CWI) for 30 min, on five separate occasions. Skin temperature (Tf) and blood flow (laser-Doppler; expressed as percent change from warm-water peak) responses that describe CIVD were identified, including initial nadir reached during CWI, onset time of CIVD, initial apex during CIVD, time of that apex, and overall mean during CWI. Within-subject coefficient of variation for Tf across the five tests for the nail bed and pad, respectively, were as follows: nadir, 9 and 21%; onset, 18 and 19%; apex, 12 and 17%; apex time, 23 and 24%; mean 10 and 15%. For blood flow, these values were as follows: nadir 52 and 64%; onset, 6 and 5%; apex, 33 and 31%; apex time 9 and 8%; and mean 43 and 34%. Greater variability was found in the temperature response of the finger pad than the nail bed, but for blood flow the variability was similar between locations. Variability in onset and apex time between sites was similar for both temperature and blood flow responses. The reproducibility of the time course of CIVD suggests this methodology may be of value for further studies examining the mechanism of the response.

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