Microcirculatory Imaging in Cardiac Anesthesia: Ketanserin Reduces Blood Pressure But Not Perfused Capillary Density

Paul W.G. Elbers, Alaattin Ozdemir, Mat van Iterson, Eric P.A. van Dongen, Can Ince

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Objectives: It has become possible to image the human microcirculation at the bedside using sidestream dark field (SDF) imaging. This may help the clinician when correlation between global and microvascular hemodynamics may not be straightforward. Ketanserin, a serotonin and α-1 adrenoceptor antagonist, is used in some countries to treat elevated blood pressure after extracorporeal circulation. This might hamper microcirculatory perfusion. Conversely, it is also conceivable that microcirculatory flow is maintained or improved as a result of flow redistribution. In order to introduce SDF imaging in cardiac anesthesia, the authors set out to directly observe the sublingual microcirculation in this setting. Design: An observational study. Setting: A large teaching hospital. Participants: Mechanically ventilated patients with elevated arterial blood pressure immediately after extracorporeal circulation (ECC). Intervention: An intravenous bolus of ketanserin, 0.15 mg/kg. Measurements and Main Results: Five minutes before and 10 minutes after ketanserin administration, global hemodynamic variables were recorded. In addition, the authors used SDF imaging to record video clips of the microcirculation. Analysis of these allowed for quantification of microvascular hemodynamics including determination of perfused vessel density (PVD) and microcirculatory flow index (MFI). After ketanserin administration, there was a significant reduction in systolic arterial blood pressure (129 ± 9 to 100 ± 15 mmHg, p = 0.0001). At the level of the microcirculation, the mean MFI did not change significantly for small (diameter <20 μm, 2.79 [interquartile range, 1.38-3] to 2.38 [1.88-2.75], p = 0.62) or large (diameter >20 μm, 2.83 [1.4-3] to 2.67 [0.35-2.84] p = 1.0) vessels. There was a significant increase in mean PVD for large vessels (1.23 ± 0.63 to 1.70 ± 79 mm-1, p = 0.017) but not for small vessels (5.59 ± 2.60 to 5.87 ± 1.22 mm-1, p = 0.72) where red blood cell flow was maintained. Conclusions: SDF imaging clearly showed a discrepancy between global and microvascular hemodynamics after the administration of ketanserin for elevated blood pressure after ECC. Ketanserin effectively lowers arterial blood pressure. However, capillary perfusion is maintained at a steady value. Both effects may be explained by an increase in shunting in the larger vessels of the microcirculation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-101
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of cardiothoracic and vascular anesthesia
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2009


  • capillary density
  • cardiac surgery
  • extracorporeal circulation
  • hypertension
  • intensive care
  • ketanserin
  • microcirculation
  • sidestream dark field

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