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Physiol Meas. 2007 Sep;28(9):R65-86. Epub 2007 Aug 21.

Microcirculatory function monitoring at the bedside--a view from the intensive care.

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Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, Innsbruck Medical University, Anichstrasse 35, A-6020 Innsbruck, Austria.


Microcirculatory dysfunction plays a key role in the pathophysiology of various disease states and may consequently impact patient outcome. Until recently, the evaluation of the microcirculation using different measurement techniques has been mostly limited to animal and human research. With technical advances, microcirculatory monitoring nowadays becomes more and more available for application in clinical praxis. Unfortunately, measurements within the microcirculation are mostly limited to easily accessible surfaces, such as skin, muscle and tongue. Due to major differences in the physiologic regulation of microcirculatory blood flow and in metabolism between organs and even within different tissues in one organ, the clinical importance of regional microcirculatory measurements remains to be determined. In addition, technical methods available demonstrate large differences in the measured parameters and sampling volume, making interpretation of data even more difficult. Nonetheless, the monitoring of the microcirculation may, ahead of time, alert physicians that tissue oxygen supply becomes compromised and it may lead to a better understanding of basic pathophysiological aspects of disease. In the present review, we describe available non-invasive microcirculatory measurement techniques which can be applied clinically at the bedside. After a short discussion of physiologic and pathophysiologic basics related to microcirculatory monitoring, the measuring principles, applications, strengths and limitations of different monitoring systems are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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