Aim: This study evaluates the feasibility of handheld vital microscopy for noninvasive, objective assessment of the microcirculation of the human uterine cervix. We qualitatively and quantitatively describe the microcirculation in healthy subjects in order to provide a basis for its application in cervical pathology. Methods: Incident dark field imaging was used to image the microcirculation in four quadrants of the uterine ectocervix in ten healthy participants. If the squamocolumnar junction was visible, measurements were repeated on the endocervical columnar epithelium as well. Image acquisition time was recorded and participants scored the experienced level of discomfort. Angioarchitecture was classified according to Weber's classification. Quantitative parameters included capillary density (CD), total and perfused vessel density (TVD, PVD), proportion of perfused vessels (PPV) and microvascular flow index (MFI). Results: Image acquisition was easy, fast and well tolerated. Angioarchitecture was characterized by two distinctive and organized patterns; capillary loops underneath the squamous epithelium of the ectocervix and vascular networks underneath the columnar epithelium. In the image sequences containing capillary loops, mean CD was 33.2 cpll/mm2 (95% CI 28.2–38.2 cpll/mm2). In the image sequences with vascular networks, mean TVD was 12.5 mm/mm2 (95% CI 11.2–13.77 mm/mm2), mean PVD was 12.2 (95% CI 11.0–13.5 mm/mm2), MFI was 3 and PPV was 100%. Conclusions: Incident dark field imaging allows for noninvasive, real time visualization and objective evaluation and quantification of the microcirculation of the uterine cervix. The organized vascular patterns and optimal perfusion observed in healthy subjects allow for comparison with cervical pathology, for example in patients with cervical dysplasia or cervical cancer.

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Microvascular Research
Department of Intensive Care

Latul, Y.P. (Yani P.), Kastelein, A.W. (Arnoud W.), Beemster, P.W.T. (Patricia W.T.), van Trommel, N. E., Ince, C. (Can), & Roovers, J.-P.W.R. (Jan-Paul W.R.). (2021). Noninvasive, in vivo assessment of the cervical microcirculation using incident dark field imaging. Microvascular Research, 135. doi:10.1016/j.mvr.2021.104145