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August 30, 1965


JAMA. 1965;193(9):734. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03090090040012

A century ago Lister observed aggregation of blood cells within the vessels of a bat's injured wing. Over 200 years ago Boerhaave demonstrated axial streaming of blood cells in the conjunctiva. These ingenious observations were primitive beginnings in the now sophisticated and mathematically complex science of rheology.

Investigations in this new field received great impetus from the discovery and commercial availability of dextrans. These polysaccharides, have the ability to alter blood-flow properties. The alterations vary with the molecular weight of the dextran. Low-molecular weight dextran has demonstrated its ability to decrease blood viscosity and reverse cell aggregation, producing an increase in blood flow and tissue perfusion.

It has been suggested that the value of low-molecular weight dextran will best be determined by observations on its effectiveness in relieving symptoms and diminishing complications in conditions known to cause stasis in blood vessels.1 Clinical studies, documenting the use of this substance,