In preterm infants, plasma and red blood cells display several specific properties (eg, RBC size, plasma composition) that could influence blood flow behavior. Hemorheologic properties of blood from 20 preterm infants (24 to 36 weeks of gestation), ten full-term neonates, and ten adults were studied by means of a coneplate viscometer adpated with a Couette-type chamber allowing viscometry at a wide range of shear rates (1.15 to 230/s). Blood viscosity (at given hematocrit of 60%), plasma viscosity, and RBC aggregation were very low in the smallest preterm infants, increased with gestational age, and reached the highest values in the adults. Whole blood viscosity increased directly with increasing plasma viscosity, plasma fibrinogen, and total plasma protein concentration, with the strongest correlations at the lowest shear rate of 1.15/s. The viscosity of RBCs suspended in a nonaggregating buffer solution was similar in all groups, thereby indicating that RBC deformability is similar in preterm infants, full-term neonates, and adults. Because mixing of neonatal and adult blood components occurs in most small preterm infants as a result of the transfusion of adult blood products, viscosities of cross suspensions (neonatal RBCs in adult plasma and adult RBCs in neonatal plasma) were measured. The exchange of neonatal plasma for adult plasma increased blood viscosity values in the neonates to adult values. On the other hand, the exchange of neonatal RBCs for adult RBCs did not affect blood viscosity. These results indicate that viscosity of blood with given hematocrit is lower in preterm infants than in term neonates and adults as a result of low plasma viscosity and low RBC aggregation, and that neonatal RBCs do not possess specific properties that influence blood viscosity.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.