Microdialysis methods for measuring human metabolism

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Purpose of review

To discuss the advantages and limitations of the microdialysis technique as a diagnostic and research tool using recent findings on human metabolism.

Recent findings

Results from several studies have supported the potential of microdialysis as a diagnostic tool for metabolic monitoring in difficult accessible tissues (brain, liver, intestine). However, despite promising results, no clear diagnostic measures have yet emerged. Several studies combining microdialysis with stable isotope tracers have shown that this approach has great potential for studying human metabolism non-invasively in specific tissue beds in a more dynamic way.


Bearing in mind the limitations and assumptions, the microdialysis technique is a useful tool in investigations of human metabolism. Its main advantages are that it can be used safely with low-grade invasiveness in humans, and thereby allows continuous sampling over prolonged periods of time from specific tissues without taking any biopsies. At present, microdialysis would seem to be useful as a diagnostic tool when integrated in the total clinical, physiological and pharmacological evaluation. Within human metabolic research, microdialysis has been and will be a very useful technique.

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