Microvascular reactivity differences between the two legs of patients with unilateral lower limb ischaemia

D. T. Ubbink, M. J. Jacobs, D. W. Slaaf, G. J. Tangelder, R. S. Reneman

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Posturally induced microvascular constriction in the skin of the leg is disturbed in severe ischaemia. It is unknown whether this disturbance is of local or central origin and whether the stage of ischaemia at which this disturbance occurs differs when the nutritive and thermoregulatory flow levels are compared. We investigated the effect of posture on the skin microcirculation in 21 patients with unilateral severe ischaemia. The results were compared with those from the contralateral, asymptomatic leg and with results from 11 age-matched controls. Patients were investigated in supine and sitting positions, using capillary microscopy to measure nutritive flow, and laser Doppler fluxmetry (LDF) to measure thermoregulatory flow, of the big toes. In the supine position, capillary flow and LDF were lower in the diseased than in the asymptomatic and control legs. After changing from the supine to the sitting position, capillary perfusion decreased in all three groups, but was most pronounced in the controls. Laser Doppler flux decreased in the controls, but increased in the diseased legs, suggesting disturbed vasoconstriction mechanisms in the deeper skin microvessels. These findings indicate that in severe limb ischaemia, posturally induced microvascular reactivity is sustained at the nutritive level but not at the thermoregulatory level. This disturbed reactivity is considered a local phenomenon, as it is not observed in the contralateral leg
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-275
JournalEuropean journal of vascular surgery
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1992

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