Annals of Biomedical Engineering

, Volume 37, Issue 8, pp 1546–1559 | Cite as

Measurement of Individual Red Blood Cell Motions Under High Hematocrit Conditions Using a Confocal Micro-PTV System

  • Rui LimaEmail author
  • Takuji Ishikawa
  • Yohsuke Imai
  • Motohiro Takeda
  • Shigeo Wada
  • Takami Yamaguchi


Developments in optical experimental techniques have helped in elucidating how blood flows through microvessels. Although initial developments were encouraging, studies on the flow properties of blood in microcirculation have been limited by several technical factors, such as poor spatial resolution and difficulty obtaining quantitative detailed measurements at such small scales. Recent advances in computing, microscopy, and digital image processing techniques have made it possible to combine a particle tracking velocimetry (PTV) system with a confocal microscope. We document the development of a confocal micro-PTV measurement system for capturing the dynamic flow behavior of red blood cells (RBCs) in concentrated suspensions. Measurements were performed at several depths through 100-μm glass capillaries. The confocal micro-PTV system was able to detect both translational and rotational motions of individual RBCs flowing in concentrated suspensions. Our results provide evidence that RBCs in dilute suspensions (3% hematocrit) tended to follow approximately linear trajectories, whereas RBCs in concentrated suspensions (20% hematocrit) exhibited transversal displacements of about 2% from the original path. Direct and quantitative measurements indicated that the plasma layer appeared to enhance the fluctuations in RBC trajectories owing to decreased obstruction in transversal movements caused by other RBCs. Using optical sectioning and subsequent image contrast and resolution enhancement, the system provides previously unobtainable information on the motion of RBCs, including the trajectories of two or more RBCs interacting in the same focal plane and RBC dispersion coefficients in different focal planes.


Blood flow Microcirculation Red blood cells Confocal micro-PTV RBC dispersion Microchannels 



This study was supported in part by the following grants: International Doctoral Program in Engineering from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan (MEXT), “Revolutionary Simulation Software (RSS21)” next-generation IT program of MEXT; Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research from MEXT and JSPS Scientific Research in Priority Areas (768) “Biomechanics at Micro- and Nanoscale Levels”, “Scientific Research (S) No. 19100008”.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 5 (MOV 1615 kb)


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Copyright information

© Biomedical Engineering Society 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rui Lima
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Takuji Ishikawa
    • 1
  • Yohsuke Imai
    • 1
  • Motohiro Takeda
    • 1
    • 4
  • Shigeo Wada
    • 5
  • Takami Yamaguchi
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Bioengineering and Robotics, Graduate School of EngineeringTohoku UniversitySendaiJapan
  2. 2.Department of Mechanical TechnologyESTiG, Braganca PolytechnicBragancaPortugal
  3. 3.CEFT, Faculdade de Engenharia da Universidade do PortoPortoPortugal
  4. 4.Division of Surgical Oncology, Graduate School of MedicineTohoku UniversitySendaiJapan
  5. 5.Department of Mechanical Science and Bioengineering, Graduate School of Engineering ScienceOsaka UniversityToyonakaJapan
  6. 6.Department of Biomedical Engineering, Graduate Biomedical School of EngineeringTohoku UniversitySendaiJapan

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