Electrophysiology of the right anterior approach to the atrioventricular node: Studies in vivo and in the isolated perfused dog heart

Matthias Antz, Benjamin J. Scherlag, Eugene Patterson, Kenichiro Otomo, Claudio Tondo, Jan Pitha, Mario D. Gonzalez, Warren M. Jackman, Ralph Lazzara

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36 Scopus citations


Electrophysiology of Anterior AVN Input. Introduction: Previous reports have described electrophysiologic properties and rate-dependent responses in the transitional cell zone of the posterior AV nodal input (slow pathway). The purpose of this study was to investigate the electrophysiology of the anterior transitional cell zone (fast pathway) in vivo and in a Langendorff preparation perfused with a nonblood solution containing butanedionemonoxime to inhibit contraction. Methods and Results: In five anesthetized dogs, the His-bundle electrogram recorded from the aortic root included atrial activity in close proximity to the anterior limbus of the fossa ovalis. During decremental atrial pacing, the atrial potential exhibited amplitude alternans at a pacing cycle length (CL) of 135 ± 14 msec. In ten isolated perfused canine hearts, a bipolar electrode catheter was positioned with its tip against the right anterior interatrial septum just superior to the tendon of Todaro. The AV Wenckebach CL (WCL) averaged 262 ± 21 msec. During further decreases in pacing CL, the bipolar atrial potential developed a 2:1 amplitude alternans (9/10 dogs) at CL = 168 ± 15 msec and then split into two components with subsequent 2:1 block between these components (10/10 dogs) at CL = 152 ± 19 msec. Radiofrequency ablation at this site in six dogs prolonged the stimulus to HB interval from 113 ± 19 to 151 ± 30 msec (P < 0.01) without changing the WCL, consistent with ablation of the fast AV nodal pathway. In six other isolated perfused canine hearts, an octapolar catheter (2-mm spacing) was positioned along the anterior limbus of the fossa ovalis with the tip electrode located over the anterior portion (apex) of the triangle of Koch. The aforementioned 2:1 amplitude alternans occurred at a longer CL in the distal electrodes located at the tendon of Todaro than in the proximal electrodes at farther distances from the tendon of Todaro (185 ± 25 vs 171 ± 20 msec, P < 0.05), as did the 2:1 block between the two components (161 ± 18 vs 150 ± 18 msec, P < 0.05). Microelectrode recordings obtained adjacent to the catheter demonstrated 2:1 alternans and block patterns in the action potentials of transitional cells but not in atrial cells, which exhibited 1:1 conduction at all CL. Conclusions: The transitional cell zone in the anterior interatrial septum exhibits a specific rate-dependent, spatial gradient of conduction block, which can be recorded in bipolar electrograms as well as microelectrode recordings. Electrophysiologic changes induced by radiofrequency ablation of this anterior atrial/transitional cell zone (corroborated by histology) provide strong presumptive evidence that this area constitutes all or a major part of the fast AV nodal pathway.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-61
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of cardiovascular electrophysiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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