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Physiol Meas. 2017 Oct 31;38(11):1939-1952. doi: 10.1088/1361-6579/aa8980.

Investigation of cerebral venous outflow in microgravity.

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Dipartimento di Fisica e Scienze della Terra, Università degli Studi di Ferrara and INFN, Sezione di Ferrara, via Saragat 1, 44122 Ferrara, Italy.



The gravitational gradient is the major component to face when considering the physiology of venous return, and there is a growing interest in understanding the mechanisms ensuring the heart filling, in the absence of gravity, for astronauts who perform long-term space missions.


The purpose of the Drain Brain project was to monitor the cerebral venous outflow of a crew member during an experiment on the International Space Station (ISS), so as to study the compensatory mechanisms that facilitate this essential physiological action in subjects living in a microgravity environment. Such venous function has been characterized by means of a novel application of strain-gauge plethysmography which uses a capacitive sensor.


In this contribution, preliminary results of our investigation have been presented. In particular, comparison of plethysmography data confirmed that long duration spaceflights lead to a redistribution of venous blood volume, and showed interesting differences in the amplitude of cardiac oscillations measured at the level of the neck veins.


The success of the experiment has also demonstrated that thanks to its easy portability, non-invasiveness, and non-operator dependence, the proposed device can be considered as a novel tool for use aboard the ISS. Further trials are now under way to complete the investigation on the drainage function of the neck veins in microgravity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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