We quantitated phasic epimyocardial microcirculatory coronary blood flow velocity patterns in the beating left ventricle. Using a newly developed floating objective and high-speed cinematography, red cell velocities in small arterioles, capillaries, and small venules and microvascular diameters in the superficial layer of the epimyocardium of beating left ventricle were determined throughout the entire cardiac cycle in open-chest anesthetized dogs. Heart rate was maintained at 140 beats/min by means of left atrial pacing. Peak red cell velocity was observed in midsystole in small arterioles and capillaries, and in late systole in small venules. Abrupt decline in red cell velocity and, in many cases, a momentary cessation or reverse of flow, was observed in these microvessels during the pre-ejection period. The internal diameter of small venule was increased in late systole, while that of small arteriole remained almost constant during the cardiac cycle. Furthermore, in these epimyocardial microvessels, a higher percentage of the total area under the velocity curve occurred during the ejection phase; 51% in small arterioles, 43% in capillaries, and 40% in small venules. These findings indicate that the phasic blood flow pattern is markedly different in the subepimyocardial microvessels from that in the large epicardial artery and the septal artery. During vasodilation following dilazep (50 μg/kg, i.v.), an adenosine potentiator, red cell velocity increased throughout the entire cardiac cycle in epimyocardial microvessels with significant increases in the total area under the velocity curves accompanied by significant dilation of the arterioles. The present data will provide information useful in predicting or simulating transmural differences in the phasic blood flow pattern.
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