Measurement of Local Blood Flow with Hydrogen Gas

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When a platinized platinum electrode is polarized at the potential of the standard calomel electrode, the current generated is proportional to the concentration of dissolved hydrogen gas. The effects of physiological variations in oxygen tension, pH, temperature, and ascorbic acid concentration were found to be negligible. Although absolute calibration in vivo is not possible, the rate of tissue hydrogen saturation or desaturation can be measured by needle-shaped electrodes inserted into the tissue. Arterial and venous concentration can be measured with catheter electrodes. Solubility of hydrogen gas in kidney slices was found to be the same as in blood. With the assumption that tissue is in instantaneous diffusion equilibrium with local venous blood with respect to hydrogen, the local blood flow per volume of tissue can be calculated according to the Fick principle from the rate of tissue desaturation when arterial concentration is lowered to zero.The method was tested on dogs in myocardium, kidney, and skeletal muscle. Hydrogen was administered by respiration or by intra-arterial infusion of hydrogen-saturated saline, giving an arterial concentration of 3% to 5% saturation. Tissue desaturation curves were recorded simultaneously from two to three tissue electrodes. Good agreement with flow measured simultaneously with other methods was obtained in myocardium and renal cortex, while the data on skeletal muscle do not permit any definite conclusion. The main virtue of this method lies in the fact that repeated measurements of local blood flow can be obtained without access to arterial or local venous blood. Reliable measurements of regional blood flow were also obtained from continuously recorded venous desaturation curves, which also provide information on the distribution of blood flow.

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