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J Vasc Surg. 2005 Sep;42(3):574-81.

Evaluation of the microcirculation in vascular disease.

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Department of Surgery, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, USA.


Insufficient blood flow through end-resistance arteries leads to symptoms associated with peripheral vascular disease. This may be caused in part by poor macrocirculatory inflow or impaired microcirculatory function. Dysfunction of the microcirculation occurs in a similar fashion in multiple tissue beds long before the onset of atherosclerotic symptoms. Impaired microcirculatory vasodilatation has been shown to occur in certain disease states including peripheral vascular disease, diabetes mellitus, hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, chronic renal failure, abdominal aortic aneurysmal disease, and venous insufficiency, as well as in menopause, advanced age, and obesity. Microcirculatory structure and function can be evaluated with transcutaneous oxygen, pulp skin flow, iontophoresis, and capillaroscopy. We discuss the importance of the microcirculation, investigative methods for evaluating its function, and clinical applications and review the literature of the microcirculation in these different states.

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