Reflectance spectrophotometry (RS) is an optical technology that has been used for nearly three decades in the measurement of tissue hemoglobin oxygen saturation in the gastrointestinal tract. The technology has evolved substantially throughout this period,and commercial devices are now available for use in clinical trials. Numerous studies have used RS to investigate the importance of mucosal perfusion in disorders such as ulcer disease, portal hypertension, and septic shock. More recently, the technique has been applied to measure changes in perfusion in response to infusion of vasoactive medications and maneuvers such as cardiopulmonary bypass. The results of current trials investigating the application of RS in critical care monitoring and vascular interventions will likely determine whether the technique will evolve from predominantly a research tool to a clinically useful device.
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