Peak calf blood flow estimates are higher with Dohn than with Whitney plethysmograph

D. N. Proctor, J. R. Halliwill, P. H. Shen, N. E. Vlahakis, M. J. Joyner, T. Eickhoff, D. Loeffler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Estimates of calf blood flow with venous occlusion plethysmography vary widely between studies, perhaps due to the use of different plethysmographs. Consequently, we compared calf blood flow estimates at rest and during reactive hyperemia in eight healthy subjects (four men and four women) with two commonly used plethysmographs: the mercury-in-silastic (Whitney) strain gauge and the Dohn air-filled cuff. To minimize technical variability, flow estimates were compared with a Whitney gauge and a Dohn cuff on opposite calves before and after 10 mm of bilateral femoral arterial occlusion. To account for any differences between limbs, a second trial was conducted in which the plethysmographs were switched. Resting flows did not differ between the plethysmographs (P = 0.096), but a trend toward lower values with the Whitney was apparent. Peak flows averaged 37% lower with the Whitney (27.8 ± 2.8 ml·dl-1·min-1) than with the Dohn plethysmograph (44.4 ± 2.8 ml·dl-1·min-1; P < 0.05). Peak flow expressed as a multiple above baseline was also lower with the Whitney (10-fold) than with the Dohn plethysmograph (14.5-fold; P = 0.02). Across all flows at rest and during reactive hyperemia, estimates were highly correlated between the plethysmographs in all subjects (r2 = 0.96-0.99). However, the mean slope for the Whitney-Dohn relationship was only 60 ± 2%, indicating that over a wide range of flows the Whitney gauge estimate was 40% lower than that for the Dohn cuff. These results demonstrate that the same qualitative results can be obtained with either plethysmograph but that absolute flow values will generally be lower with Whitney gauges.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1418-1422
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1996


  • peripheral vasodilatory capacity
  • reactive hyperemia
  • venous occlusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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