In every human body contains more than 40 billion tiny blood vessels – capillaries. Unfortunately, despite their importance in the distribution of oxygen in cells, the mechanism of their inner work for the most part remains a mystery to scientists. A group of researchers from northwestern University (USA) have developed a new tool for visualization of blood flow through these tiny blood vessels, and very soon we will be able to learn more about capillaries, writes portal Futurism.
Using a method called the spectral-contrast optical coherence tomography (spectral contrast optical coherence tomography angiography, SC-OCTA), a team of scientists were able to obtain an unprecedented opportunity to look at capillary blood flow. Their study, published in the journal Light: Science & Applications, may have far-reaching consequences for medicine in General and for understanding the human body in particular.
Researchers and doctors have long can look inside of large blood vessels using ultrasound. However, the ultrasound does not work in all cases. For example, it is completely ineffective if you want to consider a vessel in which there is no movement of blood. If to speak directly about the capillaries, the small and completely absent blood flow through the capillary channels with a diameter of 5-10 micrometers can result in poor circulation of oxygen, which in turn can cause a variety of effects, ranging from mild headache to heart failure.
“Despite the presence of good blood flow in the arteries, you may have problems with oxygenation of the tissues, if there is no desired microvasculature,” — said the head of the study Vadim Backman.
The advantage of the method SC-OCTA is that it does not need the presence of blood flow in the capillaries to see a clear picture of what is happening. This can greatly simplify the task of doctors to determine what caused the poor blood flow through the capillary, and prevent the problems associated with low oxygen levels. Team Bachman notes that they have developed the technique uses only light, and it requires the use of contrast dyes or harmful radiation that are normally used in the traditional techniques of visualization, for example, for the same ultrasound. At the same time, SC-OCTA allows accurate visualization at a depth of only 1 millimeter. In contrast to the same method of ultrasonic scanning which enables you to “take” a few inches, this represents a pretty significant disadvantage, the researchers agree, but add that are already working on how to increase the penetrating ability of SC-OCTA.
“This is a progressive attempt to imaging the tiny blood vessels to a new level, offering a more complete and functional information,” says Beckman.
Scientists believe that the ability to detect even minor changes in the structure of the capillaries will help doctors detect cancer or diseases of the cardiovascular system. In addition, the new method can help in current research in the area of organelles aimed at understanding how these organs respond to the development of various diseases.
To discuss the development in our Telegram chat.