Intermittent pneumatic compression of legs increases microcirculation in distant skeletal muscle.
Intermittent pneumatic compression has been established as a method of clinically preventing deep vein thrombosis, but the mechanism has not been documented. This study observed the effects of intermittent pneumatic compression of legs on the microcirculation of distant skeletal muscle. The cremaster muscles of 80 male rats were exposed, a specially designed intermittent pneumatic-compression device was applied to both legs for 60 minutes, and the microcirculation of the muscles was assessed by measurement of the vessel diameter in three categories (10-20, 21-40, and 41-70 microm) for 120 minutes. The results showed significant vasodilation in arterial and venous vessels during the application of intermittent pneumatic compression, which disappeared after termination of the compression. The vasodilation reached a maximum 30 minutes after initiation of the compression and could be completely blocked by an inhibitor of nitric oxide synthase, NG-monomethyl-L-arginine (10 micromol/min). A 120-minute infusion of NG-monomethyl-L-arginine, beginning coincident with 60 minutes of intermittent pneumatic compression, resulted in a significant decrease in arterial diameter that remained at almost the same level after termination of the compression. The magnitude of the decrease in diameter in the group treated with intermittent pneumatic compression and NG-monomethyl-L-arginine was comparable with that in the group treated with NG-monomethyl-L-arginine alone. The results imply that the production of nitric oxide is involved in the positive influence of intermittent pneumatic compression on circulation. It is postulated that the rapid increase in venous velocity induced by intermittent pneumatic compression produces strong shear stress on the vascular endothelium, which stimulates an increased release of nitric oxide and thereby causes systemic vasodilation.
Liu, K; Chen, LE; Seaber, AV; Johnson, GW; Urbaniak, JR
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