RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
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Quantification of residual limb skeletal muscle perfusion with contrast-enhanced ultrasound during application of a focal junctional tourniquet.

OBJECTIVE: Focal junctional tourniquets (JTs) have been developed to control hemorrhage from proximal limb injuries. These devices may permit greater collateral perfusion than circumferential tourniquets. We hypothesized that JTs eliminate large-vessel pulse pressure yet allow a small amount of residual limb perfusion that could be useful for maintaining tissue viability.

METHODS: Ten healthy control subjects were studied. Transthoracic echocardiography, Doppler ultrasound of the femoral artery (FA) and posterior tibial artery, and contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEU) perfusion imaging of the anterior thigh extensor and calf plantar flexor muscles were performed at baseline and during application of a JT over the common FA. Intramuscular arterial pulsatility index was also measured from CEU intensity variation during the cardiac cycle.

RESULTS: FA flow was eliminated by JTs in all subjects; posterior tibial flow was eliminated in all but one. Perfusion measured in the thigh and calf muscles was similar at baseline (0.33 ± 0.29 vs 0.29 ± 0.22 mL/min/g). Application of the JT resulted in a reduction of perfusion (P < .05) that was similar for the thigh and calf (0.08 ± 0.07 and 0.10 ± 0.03 mL/min/g). On CEU, microvascular flux rate was reduced by ≈55%, and functional microvascular blood volume was reduced by ≈35%. Arterial pulsatility index was reduced by ≈90% in the calf. JT inflation did not alter left ventricle dimensions, fractional shortening, cardiac output, or arterial elastance as a measure of total systolic load.

CONCLUSIONS: Application of a JT eliminates conduit arterial pulse and markedly reduces intramuscular pulse pressure, but thigh and calf skeletal muscle perfusion is maintained at 25% to 35% of basal levels. These data suggest that JTs that are used to control limb hemorrhage allow residual tissue perfusion even when pulse pressure is absent.

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