Periodic microcirculatory flow in patients with sickle-cell disease

G. P. Rodgers, A. N. Schechter, C. T. Noguchi, H. G. Klein, A. W. Nienhuis, R. F. Bonner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

113 Scopus citations


We have applied the technique of laser-Doppler velocimetry to compare patterns of cutaneous blood flow in the forearms of patients with stable sickle-cell disease, with the patterns in normal subjects matched for age, race, and sex, and in patients with anemia due to β+-thalassemia. The mean resting blood flow in the patients with sickle-cell disease was comparable to that of the control groups but was associated with large, local oscillations in flow with periods of 7 to 10 seconds and peak-to-trough magnitudes about half the mean flow. Oscillations occurred simultaneously at sites separated by 1 cm but were independent in phase and frequency. Since these laser-Doppler measurements represent the average flow pattern in about 1 mm3 of skin (i.e., in approximately 50 to 70 capillary loops), these results suggest that microcirculatory flow in patients with sickle-cell disease proceeds by synchronization of rhythmic flow in large domains of microvessels. These findings indicate that periodic flow may be a compensatory mechanism to offset the deleterious altered rheology of erythrocytes containing polymerized hemoglobin S, and suggest that laser-Doppler velocimetry may be a useful method to investigate microvascular physiology in patients with sickle-cell disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1534-1538
Number of pages5
JournalNew England Journal of Medicine
Issue number24
StatePublished - 1984
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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