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Intensive Care Med Exp. 2014 Dec;2(1):33. doi: 10.1186/s40635-014-0033-y. Epub 2014 Nov 26.

Contrast-enhanced ultrasound evaluation of renal microcirculation in sheep.

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Intensive Care Unit, Austin Health, Austin Health, 145 Studley Road, Heidelberg, Victoria, 3084, Australia,



Contrast-enhanced ultrasonography (CEUS) is a novel imaging modality to estimate microvascular perfusion. We aimed to assess renal cortical microcirculatory changes by CEUS during pharmacologically or mechanically induced modifications of renal blood flow (RBF) in experimental animals.


We implanted invasive transit-time Doppler flow probes and a vascular occluder around the renal artery in six Merino sheep. After induction of general anaesthesia, renal CEUS studies with destruction-replenishment sequences were performed at baseline and after different interventions aimed at modifying RBF. First, we administered angiotensin II (AngII) to achieve a 25% (AngII 25%) and 50% (AngII 50%) decrease in RBF. Then, we applied mechanical occlusion of the renal artery until RBF decreased by 25% (Occl 25%) and 50% (Occl 50%) of the baseline. Finally, a single dose of 25 mg of captopril was administered. CEUS sequences were analysed offline with dedicated software and perfusion indices (PI) calculated.


Pharmacological reduction of RBF with AngII was associated with a 62% (range: 68 decrease to 167 increase) increase (AngII 25%) and a 5% increase in PI (range: 92% decrease to 53% increase) (AngII 50%) in PI. Mechanical occlusion of the renal artery was associated with a 2% (range: 43% decrease to 2% increase) decrease (Occl 25%) and a 67% (range: 63% decrease to a 120% increase) increase (Occl 50%) in PI. The administration of captopril was associated with a 8% (range: 25% decrease to a 101% increase) decrease in PI. Pooled changes in PI failed to reach statistical significance. The study was limited by the difficulty to obtain high quality images.


CEUS-derived parameters were highly heterogeneous in this sheep model. The current protocol and model did not allow the evaluation of the correlation between macro and microcirculation assessment by CEUS.

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