Researchers at ITMO University in St. Petersburg, Russia, have developed a non-invasive high-speed video capillaroscopy system that can precisely measure the velocity of blood cells. Capillaroscopy systems offer a simple and non-invasive way to assess the size and shape of capillaries or capillary networks, which can reflect the condition of the entire vascular network. The information generated is of value in diagnosing and treating conditions such as diabetes and coronary heart disease.
Until now, methods to measure blood velocity in capillaries have not been very accurate or reliable. The team’s solution uses optical equipment, high-speed video capture and specially designed software. When pressed against the skin, the device records high-speed video of red blood cells flowing through capillaries. The software then processes the frame sequence to assess the shape and configuration of capillaries, along with the distance the red blood cells travel per unit time.
“Flow velocity is a primary factor in estimating the condition of any tissue by its blood supply. For instance, in diabetes the circulation speed may alter even though blood vessels generally appear to be normal. Our main task now is to use the system to address socially significant diseases. In particular, the system can be an effective tool for studying what happens in blood vessels during coronary heart disease and how drugs affect blood flow recovery,” explains researcher Nikita Margariants.