Sidestream Dark Field Imaging of the Microcirculation to Assess Preeclampsia Microvascular Dysfunction

Amelie Pelland, Ronald B. George, Christian Lehmann, Jillian Coolen


Background: Development of predictive models of preeclampsia has only yielded modest results. We hypothesized that impaired indices of microcirculatory function could be detected using sidestream dark field imaging. The objective of this study was to examine microvascular function in women at high risk for preeclampsia at mid-gestation.

Methods: Women between 16 and 22 weeks of gestation were screened for eligibility. Patients were recruited if they met eligibility criteria indicating high risk for preeclampsia. Investigators performed non-invasive sidestream dark field imaging of the sublingual microcirculation. Images were analyzed to determine microcirculatory parameters (microvascular flow index, perfused vessel density, total vessel density, and proportion of perfused vessels). After delivery, charts were reviewed to determine if they developed gestational hypertension, preeclampsia or severe preeclampsia.

Results: Twelve of 66 participants (18.2%) developed preeclampsia or severe preeclampsia during the course of their pregnancy. Microvascular flow index was not significantly different between participants with normal pregnancies and participants with preeclampsia or severe preeclampsia (2.75 ± 0.38 vs. 2.80 ± 0.34, respectively; P = 0.459). Similarly, there were no significant differences between groups in the remaining microcirculatory parameters.

Conclusions: Sidestream dark field imaging of the sublingual microcirculation may remain an appropriate tool to identify women at risk for preeclampsia, albeit later in pregnancy.

J Clin Med Res. 2018;10(5):391-395


Pregnancy; Preeclampsia; Microcirculation; Diagnostic imaging

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