Objective: To examine the historical development, evolution, strengths and weaknesses, and applications (current and future) of laser Doppler flowmetry (LDF).
Design: A review and summary of the literature on the cutaneous uses and successful applications of LDF are presented as well as a brief discussion of the noncutaneous and nonvascular applications.
Material and methods: LDF measures Doppler-shifted quantities of reflected laser light at a superficial level to determine cutaneous and noncutaneous microcirculatory flux of erythrocytes. LDF is non-invasive and inexpensive.
Results: This relatively recent technologic development has shown considerable potential as a tool for evaluating the cutaneous circulation. Although early studies suggested that LDF had substantial difficulties with sampling, stability, and reproducibility, subsequent refinements in equipment and application have led to technical acceptability.
Conclusion: LDF seems to be particularly valuable for assessing the microcirculation and real-time changes in skin blood flow. It has been used successfully in many investigations of the cutaneous and noncutaneous blood flow in patients with fixed or vasospastic vascular disorders, neuropathies, tumors, or ulcers as well as those who have undergone intestinal, orthopedic, or plastic surgical procedures.