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The lung as a filter for microbubbles.


A new ultrasonic Doppler device has been used noninvasively over the femoral artery of anesthetized dogs to prove that it can detect carefully calibrated microbubbles of 14--189 micrometers diam when these are infused directly into the aorta. The same evaluated technique has then been employed to detect any bubbles escaping into the arterial system when gas was infused into the venous system either as microbubbles or as a bolus. Results from 18 dogs showed that, under normal conditions, the lungs are a superb filter for bubbles and that any cutoff diameter is less than 22 micrometers. However, bubbles escaped entrapment when the lungs were severely overloaded with gas (20 ml) or were pretreated with a pulmonary vasodilator (aminophylline). The dog preparation and arterial Doppler device appear to be ideal for future studies to determine what other factors might compromise the capability of the lungs to filter microbubbles. Physiological parameters showed dramatic changes when bubbles were detected as escaping into the arterial system by comparison with their effect when retained within the lungs. Changes in respiration profile indicated that they may offer a useful index of the degree of venous embolization and, hence, a warning of impending overload leading to arterial embolization.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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