Obtaining accurate and reliable measurements
of blood pressure in small animals remains a problem. There is a variation in
blood pressure with fear, excitement or pain. The currently available equipment
often does not produce consistently reproducible and accurate results (although
monitoring trends during anaesthesia has been shown to be of value).
Blood pressure can be measured directly
by cannulation of the femoral artery; however, this may be a little too invasive
for routine measurement.
Indirect measurements using an inflatable
cuff and auscultating for Korotkoff sounds (the technique used routinely in man)
are not reliably heard more distally in the limbs of small animals.
Blood flow can be measured effectively
with a small Doppler ultrasound transducer built into the cuff and located over
a palpable artery. The radial, cranial, tibial or coccygeal arteries may be used.
The oscillometric technique, which detects
the small changes in cuff pressure with each pulse, can also be used.
In both the Doppler and oscillometric
techniques the cuff width should approximate 40% of the limb circumference.
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