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Critical Care Research and Practice
Volume 2013, Article ID 892710, 8 pages
Review Article

From Macrohemodynamic to the Microcirculation

1Sezione di Anestesia e Rianimazione, Dipartimento di Scienze Biomediche e Sanità Pubblica, Università Politecnica delle Marche, Ancona, Via Tronto 10, 60020 Torrette (Ancona), Italy
2AOU Ospedali Riuniti, Via Conca 71, 60020 Ancona, Italy
3Department of Translational Physiology, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Meibergdreef 9, 1105 AZ Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Received 9 November 2012; Revised 22 January 2013; Accepted 28 January 2013

Academic Editor: M. P. Fink

Copyright © 2013 Abele Donati et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


ICU patients need a prompt normalization of macrohemodynamic parameters. Unfortunately, this optimization sometimes does not protect patients from organ failure development. Prevention or treatment of organ failure needs another target to be pursued: the microcirculatory restoration. Microcirculation is the ensemble of vessels of maximum 100  m in diameter. Nowadays the Sidestream Dark Field (SDF) imaging technique allows its bedside investigation and a recent round-table conference established the criteria for its evaluation. First, microcirculatory derangements have been studied in sepsis: they are mainly characterized by a reduction of vessel density, an alteration of flow, and a heterogeneous distribution of perfusion. Endothelial malfunction and glycocalyx rupture were proved to be the main reasons for the observed microthrombi, capillary leakage, leukocyte rolling, and rouleaux phenomenon, even if further studies are necessary for a better explanation. Therapeutic approaches targeting microcirculation are under investigation. Microcirculatory alterations have been recently demonstrated in other diseases such as hypovolemia and cardiac failure but this issue still needs to be explored. The aim of this paper is to gather the already known information, focus the reader’s attention on the importance of microvascular physiopathology in critical illness, and prompt him to actively participate to achieve a more comprehensive understanding of the issue.