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Am J Physiol. 1977 Aug;233(2):H318-21.

A microscope-television system for studying flow velocity in human skin capillaries.


A noninvasive technique for studying blood flow dynamics in human skin capillaries is described. A light microscope combined with a closed-circuit TV system was used to monitor and record capillary blood flow velocity on video tape. Arterial pulsations were recorded plethysmographically and converted into video signals by modulating the position of a square, white area in the televised scene. Twelve healthy subjects were studied. The mean (+/- SD) resting capillary blood flow velocity was 0.65 +/- 0.3 mm/s at an average skin temperature of 30.4 +/- 2.3 degrees C. Spontaneous fluctuations at a frequency of 6-10 cycles/min were observed in most subjects. A well-pronounced flow pulsatile component could be demonstrated in all capillaries studied. The technique can be used in clinical practice for studying the physiology and pathophysiology of cutaneous microcirculation in man. It can be expected that the method may become an important diagnostic tool in diseases that involve disturbances of the microcirculation, such as diabetes, hypertension, and atherosclerosis.

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