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Pediatr Res. 2008 Nov;64(5):567-71. doi: 10.1203/PDR.0b013e318184134e.

Functional vessel density in the first month of life in preterm neonates.

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Clinic of Dermatology and Allerology, University of Munich, 80337 Munich, Germany.


Changes in microcirculation have been recognized as central to many disease processes. The aim of this study was to evaluate factors, which influence the microcirculation of the skin during the first month of life in premature infants. Red blood cell (RBC) velocity, vessel diameter, and functional small vessel density (FSVD) were measured daily for the first 30 d on the upper arm in preterm infants with gestational age <30 wk. Orthogonal polarization spectral (OPS) images were analyzed off-line with the Capi- Scope-Image program. In 25 infants, FSVD decreased significantly from week 1 (mean +/- SD 236 +/- 33 cm/cm2) to week 4 (207 +/- 30 cm/cm2) and correlated directly with Hb levels and incubator temperature. Vessel diameters and RBC velocity did not change significantly, nor did clinical parameters such as blood pressure, heart rate or body temperature. Microvascular parameters were not dependent on gestational or postnatal age. The microcirculation of the skin might be an easily accessible window to obtain better understanding of circulatory changes in the postnatal period. Our data are essential as basis for further studies in this field. Hb levels and possible incubator temperatures have a substantial influence on functional small vessel density and therefore need to be taken in account.

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