Skin microcirculatory and thermal changes in elderly subjects with early stage of pressure sores

Clin Physiol. 1994 Jan;14(1):1-13. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-097x.1994.tb00484.x.


Elderly subjects are prone to develop pressure sores over the sacrum area mainly due to external pressure and shear effects which negatively affect the skin microcirculation. The aim of the study described here was to measure skin microcirculatory and thermal changes in twelve elderly patients with an early stage of pressure sore and in ten elderly subjects without pressure sore. The total skin microcirculation at a damaged risk area, the sacrum, and a reference area of undamaged skin over the gluteal region, was evaluated using the laser Doppler fluxmetry. The nutritive transport of small solutes, characterized by the transcapillary exchange of sodium fluorescein, was evaluated using the fluorescein flowmetry technique. The skin temperature was measured with a thermoelement. The skin microcirculation at the area with an early stage of pressure sore was significantly higher than at undamaged skin as measured by both techniques. The total microcirculatory blood flow increased > 16 times (P < 0.001) and the nutritive transport approximately 5 times (P < 0.01) compared to the reference value, and the calculated blood flow of subpapillary tissue layers increased 17-19 times (P < 0.001). However, the skin temperatures in damaged and undamaged skin did not differ significantly. These results show an increased skin microcirculation in the early stage of pressure sores but no increase in skin temperature. The more strongly increased skin blood flow in subpapillary tissue layers effectively conducts away the heat caused by the damage and the increased metabolic activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Fluoresceins
  • Humans
  • Laser-Doppler Flowmetry
  • Male
  • Microcirculation / physiology
  • Pressure Ulcer / physiopathology*
  • Regional Blood Flow / physiology
  • Skin / blood supply*
  • Skin Temperature / physiology*


  • Fluoresceins