Evaluation of sublingual microcirculatory blood flow in the critically ill

M. Sallisalmi, N. Oksala, V. Pettilä, J. Tenhunen

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28 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The microcirculation regulates the supply of oxygen and nutrients to tissues. The sublingual region is frequently used as a window to microcirculation in critically ill patients. Numerous studies have reported impaired sublingual microcirculatory flow. We hypothesized that the quality of sidestream dark field imaging (SDF) recordings could be systematically analyzed to justify the monitoring of sublingual microcirculation in interventional studies or in clinical practice. Methods The sublingual microcirculation in critically ill patients with septic shock, open heart surgery, or alcoholic pancreatitis, and healthy subjects was recorded with a hand held SDF device by one trained investigator in observational setting. A total of 82 video recording sessions were performed and 240 video clips eligible for quality assessment were identified. Quality assessment was performed offline by two investigators independently and blinded for the origin of the video file. Results Of the 240 clips, pressure artifact was detected in 86 (36%), major blood in 5 (2.1%), major saliva in 21 (8.8%) and extreme brightness causing loss of visible capillaries in 16 (6.7%) clips. The dominating vessel architecture was multiple size vessels in 228 (95%) and repeating capillary loop motif in 12 (5.0%). The mean (±SD) relative size reduction during stabilization was -6.9% (±4.7%). Excellent technical quality was detected in 74 of 240 (30.8%) recordings. Conclusions Our findings highlight the need of a comprehensive training period and reporting of data quality before findings with SDF imaging can be accepted as surrogate end points in interventional studies or as guidance in clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)298-306
Number of pages9
JournalActa Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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