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Lumped parameter thermal model for the study of vascular reactivity in the fingertip

O Ley, C Deshpande, B Prapamcham, M Naghavi

J Biomech Eng 2008 Jun;130(3):031012.


Vascular reactivity (VR) denotes changes in volumetric blood flow in response to arterial occlusion. Current techniques to study VR rely on monitoring blood flow parameters and serve to predict the risk of future cardiovascular complications. Because tissue temperature is directly impacted by blood flow, a simplified thermal model was developed to study the alterations in fingertip temperature during arterial occlusion and subsequent reperfusion (hyperemia). This work shows that fingertip temperature variation during VR test can be used as a cost-effective alternative to blood perfusion monitoring. The model developed introduces a function to approximate the temporal alterations in blood volume during VR tests. Parametric studies are performed to analyze the effects of blood perfusion alterations, as well as any environmental contribution to fingertip temperature. Experiments were performed on eight healthy volunteers to study the thermal effect of 3 min of arterial occlusion and subsequent reperfusion (hyperemia). Fingertip temperature and heat flux were measured at the occluded and control fingers, and the finger blood perfusion was determined using venous occlusion plethysmography (VOP). The model was able to phenomenologically reproduce the experimental measurements. Significant variability was observed in the starting fingertip temperature and heat flux measurements among subjects. Difficulty in achieving thermal equilibration was observed, which indicates the important effect of initial temperature and thermal trend (i.e., vasoconstriction, vasodilatation, and oscillations).


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