OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the extent to which increased lymph flow can return fluid and protein to the circulation in the chronically anemic fetus. STUDY DESIGN: Thoracic duct lymph flow rate over a range of outflow pressures was measured in 8 near-term fetal sheep 4 to 5 days after surgery and daily thereafter for 5 days. After each day's study 60 to 150 ml of blood was withdrawn at a rate of 1 ml per minute. Regression analysis was used to establish the lymph flow function curve. Lymph and plasma protein concentrations and lymph flow rate were compared by analysis of variance for repeated measures. RESULTS: As the hematocrit was reduced from 34.6% ± 1.3% (mean ± SE) to 14.4% ± 1.0%, thoracic duct lymph flow increased from 0.12 ± 0.01 to 0.28 ± 0.02 ml/min/kg. Plasma total protein concentration did not change, lymph protein concentration fell (2.6 ± 0.1 to 2.4 ± 0.1 gm/dl), and the difference between plasma and lymph protein concentrations increased (1.04 ± 0.05 to 1.34 ± 0.10 gm/dl). Protein returned to the circulation increased from 11.5 ± 0.3 to 23.7 ± 1.5 mg per minute. Central venous pressure did not change and remained less than the breakpoint pressure. Although the plateau lymph flow rate increased, neither the breakpoint or stopflow pressures of the lymph flow function curve were altered. CONCLUSIONS: Fetal lymph flow and thereby capillary filtration increased progressively as anemia became more severe. The increase in lymph flow did not appear to be limited by outflow pressure. By returning protein to the circulation, an increase in thoracic duct lymph flow helped to limit expansion of extravascular fluid volume during chronic fetal anemia.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Obstetrics and Gynecology