Incident dark field imaging (IDF) is a new generation handheld microscope for bedside visualization and quantification of microcirculatory alterations. IDF is the technical successor of sidestream dark field imaging (SDF), currently the most used device for microcirculatory measurements. In (pre)term neonates the reduced thickness of the skin allows non-invasive transcutaneous measurements. The goal of this study was to compare the existing device (SDF) and its technical successor (IDF) in preterm neonates. We hypothesized that IDF imaging produces higher quality images resulting in a higher vessel density. After written informed consent was given by the parents, skin microcirculation was consecutively measured on the inner upper arm with de SDF and IDF device. Images were exported and analyzed offline using existing software (AVA 3.0). Vessel density and perfusion were calculated using the total vessel density (TVD) proportion of perfused vessels (PPV) and perfused vessel density. The microcirculation images quality score was used to evaluate the quality of the video images. In a heterogeneous group of twenty preterm neonates (median GA 27.6 weeks, range 24-33.4) IDF imaging visualized 19.9% more vessels resulting in a significantly higher vessel density (TVD 16.9 vs. 14.1/mm, p value < 0.001). The perfusion of vessels could be determined more accurately in the IDF images, resulting in a significant lower PPV (88.7 vs. 93.9%, p value 0.002). The IDF video images scored optimal in a higher percentage compared to the SDF video images. IDF imaging of the cutaneous microcirculation in preterm neonates resulted in a higher vessel density and lower perfusion compared to the existing SDF device.
Keywords: Incident dark field; Microcirculation; Preterm neonates; Sidestream dark field.