This paper reviews the empirical methods of quantitative microdialysis that have been used to interpret the results obtained from pharmacokinetic studies. The concept of extraction efficiency or recovery and the properties of recovery in vivo (variation with flow rate, time dependency and influence of the mode of administration) are considered. The most frequently used methods for determining recovery in vivo are described and evaluated in the light of recent theoretical studies. Specifically, we review the variation of flow rate method, the very slow flow method, the no net flux method and the delivery and retrodialysis methods. Special emphasis is placed on the description of each method, demonstrating its applicability to pharmacokinetic studies conducted under steady-state or transient conditions, and also its limitations. Finally, the more relevant studies that have compared the suitability of these methods are reviewed.
Keywords: microdialysis (md), pharmacokinetic, extracellular fluid (ecf), diffusion coefficient, perfusion, mathematical models
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