Blood flow and oxygen delivery to the organs of the neonatal lamb as a function of hematocrit

Ian R. Holzman, Brian Tabata, Daniel I. Edelstone

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21 Scopus citations


We chronically catheterized 15 newborn lambs (9.5 ± 2.8 days) and measured the distribution of cardiac output by the radionuclide-microsphere technique at hematocrits ranging from 10 volumes % to 55 volumes %. Seven animals were made progressively anemic and eight polycythemic by means of exchange transfusions. Cardiac output and heart rate increased with decreasing hematocrit while whole body oxygen consumption showed a small decrease during severe anemia. Both cerebral and cardiac blood flow markedly increased during anemia which assured a relatively stable oxygen delivery to both organs. The changes seen for blood flow to the carcass (skin, bones, and muscle) were predictable from the effects of blood viscosity: small decreases in flow at the highest hematocrits and small increases in flow at the lowest hematocrits. Consequently, oxygen delivery was as low as 1 ml of oxygen/min/100 g at a hematocrit of 10 volumes %. Renal blood flow remained unchanged while oxygen delivery fell when hematocrit was decreased. Hepatic oxygenation was measured using a modification of the Fick principle. Hepatic blood flow showed only a small decrease as hematocrit increased and changed minimally during anemia resulting in a falling delivery of oxygen with anemia. A stable hepatic oxygen consumption was assured by a marked increase in oxygen extraction during anemia. Two differing organ responses to changes in hematocrit can be seen in the newborn: the brain and heart vary blood flow to assure an adequate delivery of oxygen while a number of other organs show less blood flow regulation and, most likely, vary oxygen removal from blood. Over a wide range of hematocrits, compensatory responses occur in the newborn which effectively prevent the development of tissue hypoxia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1274-1279
Number of pages6
JournalPediatric Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1986
Externally publishedYes


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