A new sampling method of cross-sectioning the canine heart in situ was developed. A mechanical device, driven by spring power, enabled cross-sectioning of a short-axis plane of the beating canine heart (4 mm thick) with high speed rotating blades, at a pre-determined phase of the cardiac cycle, and instantaneous freeze-clamping (2.4 mm thick) with pre-cooled aluminum blocks, all within 120 ms. By this method, the anatomical structures of the sample were well preserved. Transmural metabolism and flow distribution were instantaneously fixed and high resolution of the two-dimensional redox state was obtained by application of NADH fluorescence photography. Micro-samplings from the desired portion of the cross-sectional slice were possible at -190°C. NADH fluorescence of the samples did not increase from the surface to 1.2 mm in depth, confirming that there was no ischemic artifact. With the present technique, a heart sample in which transmural metabolism, and the redox state, are fixed and visualized is attainable, thus providing a new tool for the study of myocardial ischemia.
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