Normal sublingual microcirculation during painful crisis in sickle cell disease.Microvasc Res. 2008 May; 76(1):57-60.MR
Obstruction of the microcirculation is the most important cause of painful crisis in sickle cell disease (SCD). Extensive microvascular obstruction has been observed in mouse models of SCD. A technique to determine the extent of the microcirculatory obstructions in humans may be helpful in the clinical setting and for research purposes. Therefore, we measured sublingual microcirculation longitudinally in patients with SCD admitted with painful crisis. Sublingual microcirculation was recorded with side-stream darkfield (SDF) imaging and semi-quantified with a microvascular flow index (MFI) on a range from 0 to 4 (arbitrary units; from 0 (no flow) to 4 (hyperdynamic flow)). Thirteen consecutive adult sickle cell patients admitted with painful crises were included and provided 47 measurements of MFI in 14 episodes of painful crisis. Seven patients provided baseline measurements and seven healthy controls were studied. The mean (+/-standard error of the mean) MFI during painful crisis was 2.6+/-0.1 and did not change during the painful crisis. The mean MFI of patients with SCD during steady state (2.7+/-0.1) and the mean MFI of the controls (2.7+/-0.1) were not different from the mean MFI during painful crisis. During painful crisis irregular microvascular perfusion, expressed by the distribution width of the microvascular blood flow velocity, correlated negatively (r=-0.484; P=0.002) with hemoglobin concentration. We conclude that sublingual microcirculatory blood flow velocity is not disturbed in sickle cell patients during painful crisis.