Bishai, J. M., A. B. Blood, C. J. Hunter, L. D. Longo and G. G. Power. Fetal lamb cerebral blood flow (CBF) and oxygen tensions during hypoxia: a comparison of laser Doppler and microsphere measurements of CBF. J Physiol. 546:869-78, 2003.

This study was undertaken to compare microsphere and laser Doppler flowmetry techniques for the measurement of cerebral blood flow, to assess the effect of probe implantation at the tip of the sensing probe and to measure brain tissue P(O2) (tP(O2)) in response to acute hypoxia. Fetal sheep of ~131 days gestation (n = 8) were chronically instrumented with bilateral laser Doppler probes in the parietal cortices and catheters for injection of fluorescent microspheres. Five days after surgery fetuses were subjected to 1 h periods of baseline control breathing, hypoxia and recovery. Microspheres were injected 10 min prior to and 10, 30, 50 and 120 min after initiation of hypoxia. Microspheres were counted in four 12 mm(3) tissue samples from each hemisphere, the tip of the laser Doppler probe being positioned in the centre of one of the cubes. The cube containing the probe tip was also subdivided into 4 mm(3) pieces of tissue. In response to hypoxia, fetal arterial P(O2) declined from 21 +/- 2 to 12 +/- 1 Torr and brain tissue P(O2) fell from 10 +/- 1 to a nadir of 1 +/- 1 Torr. Each method detected a significant increase in CBF that reached a maximum after 30-45 min, although the increase of flow measured by laser Doppler flowmetry was less than that measured by spheres after 10 and 30 min (P < 0.05). Microspheres did not detect altered flow at the probe tip or heterogeneity of flow in surrounding volumes of cortical tissue. In summary, laser Doppler flowmetry is a useful measure of continuous relative changes of CBF in the chronically instrumented fetal sheep. Flow compensations in acute hypoxia are not adequate to sustain O(2) delivery, and other compensations, including reduced metabolic rate, are possible.