Introduction The pathophysiology of microvascular disease is poorly understood, partly due to the lack of tools to directly image microvessels in vivo. Research design and methods In this study, we deployed a novel optical coherence tomography (OCT) technique during local skin heating to assess microvascular structure and function in diabetics with (DFU group, n=13) and without (DNU group, n=10) foot ulceration, and healthy controls (CON group, n=13). OCT images were obtained from the dorsal foot, at baseline (33°C) and 30 min following skin heating. Results At baseline, microvascular density was higher in DFU compared with CON (21.9%±11.5% vs 14.3%±5.6%, p=0.048). Local heating induced significant increases in diameter, speed, flow rate and density in all groups (all p<0.001), with smaller changes in diameter for the DFU group (94.3±13.4 μm), compared with CON group (115.5±11.7 μm, p<0.001) and DNU group (106.7±12.1 μm, p=0.014). Heating-induced flow rate was lower in the DFU group (584.3±217.0 pL/s) compared with the CON group (908.8±228.2 pL/s, p<0.001) and DNU group (768.8±198.4 pL/s, p=0.014), with changes in density also lower in the DFU group than CON group (44.7%±15.0% vs 56.5%±9.1%, p=0.005). Conclusions This proof of principle study indicates that it is feasible to directly visualize and quantify microvascular function in people with diabetes; and distinguish microvascular disease severity between patients.
- diabetic foot
- diagnostic techniques and procedures