Forearm skin tissue dielectric constant measured at 300 MHz: effect of changes in skin vascular volume and blood flow

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Skin tissue dielectric constant (TDC) values measured via the open-ended coaxial probe method are useful non-invasive indices of local skin tissue water. However, the effect of skin blood flow (SBF) or skin blood volume (SBV) on TDC values is unknown. To determine the magnitude of such effects, we decreased forearm SBV via vertical arm raising for 5 min (test 1) and increased SBV by bicep cuff compression to 50 mmHg for 5 min (test 2) in 20 healthy supine subjects (10 men). TDC values were measured to a depth of 1·5 mm on anterior forearm, and SBF was measured with laser-Doppler system simultaneously on forearm and finger. Results indicate that decreasing vascular volume (test 1) was associated with a small but statistically significant reduction in TDC (3·0 ± 4·3%, P = 0·003) and increasing vascular volume (test 2) was associated with a slight but statistically significant increase in TDC (3·5 ± 3·0%, P<0·001). SBF changes depended on test and measurement site. For forearm, test 1 significantly increased SBF (102·6 ± 156·2%, P<0·001) and test 2 significantly decreased it (39·5 ± 13·1%, P<0·001). In finger, SBF was significantly reduced by both tests: in test 1 by 55·3 ± 32·1%, P<0·001 and in test 2 by 53·3 ± 27·6%, P<0·001. We conclude that the small percentage changes in TDC values (3·0–3·5%) over the wide range of induced SBV and SBF changes suggest a minor effect on clinically determined TDC values because of SBV or SBF changes or differences when comparing TDC longitudinally over time or among individuals of different groups in a research setting.

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