Mechanisms for the maintenance of ventricular fibrillation: The nonuniform dispersion of refractoriness, restitution properties, or anatomic heterogeneities?

Academic Article


  • Introduction: The relative importance of nonuniform dispersion of refractoriness, steep restitution slopes, and anatomic heterogeneities in causing conduction block during ventricular fibrillation (VF) remains unknown. Methods and Results: In six open-chest pigs, ventricular refractoriness and restitution curves were estimated from activation recovery intervals (ARIs) calculated from 504 (21 × 24) unipolar electrode recordings 2 mm apart in a plaque sutured to the left ventricular (LV) free wall. A steady-state restitution protocol was performed twice at each of two pacing sites: the LV base and near the left anterior descending artery. VF was electrically induced four times and the incidence of conduction block at each electrode during the first 20 seconds was determined by an automated algorithm. The gradient of the ARI was calculated at each electrode to estimate the spatial dispersion of refractoriness. An exponential curve was fit to the restitution plots of ARIs versus the corresponding diastolic intervals (DIs) for all pacing cycle lengths at each electrode. The locations of epicardial blood vessels were noted after the study. Spatial patterns of conduction block were significantly correlated between the four VF episodes in the same animal (r = 0.66 ± 0.07, P < 0.05). At the shortest pacing cycle length, the spatial distribution of ARIs, ARI gradients, and restitution slopes was not random but formed clusters of similar values. However, none of these variables was significantly correlated with the incidence of conduction block, even though ARI gradients >2 msec/mm were present between many clusters and ∼90% of restitution slopes were >1. Instead, conduction block frequently appeared to cluster along epicardial vessels. Conclusion: Neither the dispersion of refractoriness nor action potential duration restitution determined during rapid pacing by itself is the major determinant of the location of conduction block during early VF in normal pigs. It may be that these factors interact synergistically with each other as well as with other factors, including anatomic heterogeneities such as those caused by blood vessels, which may be particularly important for the formation of conduction block and maintenance of VF.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Qin H; Huang J; Rogers JM; Walcott GP; Rollins DL; Smith WM; Ideker RE
  • Start Page

  • 888
  • End Page

  • 897
  • Volume

  • 16
  • Issue

  • 8