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Pediatr Res. 2009 Oct;66(4):461-5. doi: 10.1203/PDR.0b013e3181b3b1f6.

Changes in microcirculation as early markers for infection in preterm infants--an observational prospective study.

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Department of Internal Medicine, General Hospital Munich, Munich Bavaria 80804, Germany.


In adults with severe sepsis, the disturbances of the sublingual microcirculation can be quantified with orthogonal polarization spectral imaging. We investigated the cutaneous microcirculation of preterm infants with proven infection (PosInf) and with suspected but unproven infection (NegInf). In 25 infants, orthogonal polarization spectral images were obtained daily, videos of the images were blinded, and analyzed off-line. Functional small vessel density (FSVD) was prospectively calculated from day 3 to day 30 of life. There were 17 episodes of proven and nine episodes of suspected but unproven nosocomial late onset infection. Four infants remained healthy. The data were analyzed for the 5 d before the start of antibiotics (day -5 until day -1). FSVD varied widely, but in the PosInf-group, we found a 10% decline from day -5 to day -1 (p = 0.013). There was no significant change over time in the NegInf-group (p = 0.58). Thus, in infants with proven infection, FSVD decreases already 1 d before changes in laboratory parameters. However, these changes in FSVD during infection are not represented by absolute values, but must be identified by daily intraindividual observation.

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