An isolated, thermally regulated, perfused rat liver model system is presented. The model was developed to evaluate thermal methods to quantify perfusion in small volumes of tissue. The surgically isolated rat liver is perfused with an isothermal oxygenated Krebs-Ringer bicarbonate buffer solution via the cannulated portal vein. A constant-pressure head variable-resistance scheme is utilized to control the total flow to the liver. Total flow is quantified by hepatic vein collection. The spatial distribution of perfusion within the liver is determined using two independent methods. In the first method, radio-labelled microspheres are injected into the portal vein, and the regional flow distribution is determined from the relative radioactivity of each section of tissue. In the second method, the tissue is thermally perturbed, and the time constant of the tissue temperature recovery is measured. The regional distribution is determined from the relative time constants of each section of tissue. Both methods require the measurement of total liver flow to determine the absolute perfusion at each point. Results obtained by the two methods were well correlated (0.973). The rat liver system offers a stable, controllable, and measurable perfusion model for the evaluation of new perfusion measurement techniques.

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