Significance of Red Cell Deformability
Although for centuries we have realised that the red cells have to deform in order to negotiate the microcirculation, it is only very recently that the possible pathological significance of abnormalities in red cell deformability has begun to be considered. This has partly been due to the difficulty of assessing red cell deformability (RCD) in the clinical context. A number of techniques such as cinemicrophotography and suction into a micropipette are clearly not applicable clinically. Currently the most widely used method involves the filtration of red cells through small pores. The technique used in the studies reported here involved the filtration of red cells resuspended at a 5% concentration in their own plasma (after elimination of the white cells and platelets) and filtered under the force of gravity through cylindrical pores measuring 5 μ in diameter (1). The possible clinical significance of such measurements in various types of ischaemia is illustrated in three groups of patients.
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