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Dextrans are chain polymers of glucose of high molecular weight, which are produced when certain bacteria are incubated with sucrose solution. Solutions of dextrans of high or low molecular weight may be extracted. Dextrans of high molecular weight (75,000 – 200,000) are used as plasma volume expanders (e. g. Intradex - Glaxo; Dextraven - Benger), and dextrans of lower molecular weight (40,000) are claimed to be useful in improving flow by preventing any tendency that red cells have to clump and block small blood vessels (Rheomacrodex - Pharmacia). Such clumping of red cells may occur after tissue damage; it is sometimes called sludging of blood.

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