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The use of power Doppler ultrasound at 10 MHz is evaluated as a method to study the shear rate and the shear stress dependences of red blood cell aggregation. This evaluation was based on 6 in vitro experiments conducted in a 1.27-cm diameter tube under steady flow conditions. Porcine whole blood was circulated in the flow model at flow rates ranging between 125 to 1500 ml/min (mean shear rate across the tube ranging between 6 and 74 s -1). For each flow condition, the variation of the Doppler power across the tube and the velocity profile were measured by moving the Doppler sample volume across the tube diameter. For each radial position, the shear rate within the Doppler sample volume was also determined by considering the radial power pattern of the ultrasound beam. To estimate the shear stress within the Doppler sample volume, the apparent viscosity of blood samples withdrawn from the flow model was measured for each experiment. The variation of the Doppler power as a function of the shear rate within the sample volume showed a rapid reduction of the power between 1 and 5 s -1, a transition region between 5 and 10 s -1, and a very slow reduction beyond 10 s -1. Little variation of the Doppler power was measured for shear stress higher than 2 dyn/cm. The maximum Doppler power for all flow rates was usually found near the center of the tube. Based on the ultrasonic scattering models, which predict that the Doppler power is related to the volume square of the scatterers, the method described in the present study showed a very high sensitivity to the presence of red blood cell aggregation for shear rates below 10 s -1.
Date of Publication: May 1996