An examination of the measurement of flow heterogeneity in striated muscle.
This review leads us to a number of conclusions and suggestions for further study. First, we find wide differences in the meaning of flow heterogeneity, arising as a result of the different methods used. These differences will have to be reconciled to form a comprehensive view of the role of heterogeneity in determining vascular function. Second, in the future, the meaning of heterogeneity must be clearly defined and related to a particular microvascular component, and it is imperative that the differences in scale of heterogeneity be appreciated when comparing data from various laboratories. These heterogeneities have different implications for function, and failure to distinguish among them leads to confusion. Third, the degree to which perfusion heterogeneity is regulated in the microcirculation remains in doubt. Reports of variations in flow heterogeneity in response to physiological stimuli are for the most part based on highly questionable indirect methods. Fourth, the heterogeneity that can be demonstrated at the capillary level within striated muscle does not appear to be large relative to the capacity for the microcirculation to exchange most diffusible solutes. Thus, the inferences regarding heterogeneity, as evidenced by diffusible indicators, are likely to be the result of different preparations, damage to the preparations, or perhaps large-scale heterogeneities in the tissue. An alternate possibility would be that the heterogeneity occurs at the microvascular level but reflects some other aspect of microcirculatory function, such as length or hematocrit heterogeneities, but not flow heterogeneities. Fifth, flow heterogeneity within microvessels implies important consequences for capillary exchange and tissue oxygenation. Heterogeneities of velocity of a magnitude comparable to those observed by direct visualization of microcirculation can clearly produce reductions in oxygen supply to small tissue regions of a degree that may limit oxygen delivery, and thereby, tissue function. Sixth, flow heterogeneity may also influence capillary hematocrit and/or red cell spacing by producing cell separation at bifurcations and a resultant reduction in mean capillary tube hematocrit. There is as yet no agreement on why and how these hematocrits influence tissue oxygenation and function. Although several hypotheses are advanced to explain the distribution of blood flow and red cells within microcirculation, each lacks a critical experimental test at present.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)
- Copyright © 1987 by American Heart Association