AIMS: To measure blood flow in the rabbit retinal circulation with fluorescein leucocyte angiography using a scanning laser ophthalmoscope. METHODS: Blood was withdrawn from the ear vein of a rabbit (New Zealand White), mixed with fluorescent dye in a test tube and centrifuged. The yellow-brown layer containing fluorescein stained leucocytes was collected and injected into the ear vein of the same rabbit while performing fluorescein angiography with a scanning laser ophthalmoscope. The image of retinal angiography displaying circulating fluorescent leucocytes was recorded on video tape. From each frame of the video tape, the consecutive positions of fluorescein stained leucocytes were digitised using an image analysis system and the velocity of blood flow was calculated. RESULTS: Fluorescent leucocytes were clearly visualised in the retinal arteries, capillaries, and veins which allowed measurement of blood flow. The mean capillary velocity was 0.69 (SD 0.21) mm/s. The mean velocities of leucocytes measured in different sized vessels were as follows: 5.83 (2.42) mm/s in arteries over 50 microns, 3.33 (0.62) mm/s in those 35-50 microns, and 2.42 (1.08) mm/s in arteries under 35 microns, 3.08 (1.56) mm/s in veins over 50 microns, 2.79 (1.49) mm/s in those 35-50 microns, and 1.21 (0.50) mm/s in veins under 35 microns. Blood flow pulsation occurs in arteries, arterioles, veins, and venules but not capillaries. CONCLUSION: Fluorescein leucocyte angiography can be used for simultaneous measurement of the blood flow in retinal arteries, veins, and capillaries.
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