Histopathology of the conduction system in the sudden infant death syndrome.
The cause of the sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS, crib death, or cot death) is unknown. Current hypotheses include lability of heart rate and/or rhythm as a pathogenetic factor. The conduction system of 50 infants coming to autopsy were examined by serial sections; the infants were from newborn to two years of age. Twenty-six were SIDS deaths and 24 were explained deaths (ED). The frequency of histologic abnormalities of the specialized tissue was almost identical in both groups of infants. Hemorrhage in or around different parts of the conduction system was present in 27% SIDS and 29% ED. There was no evidence of cell death or degeneration of conduction fibers, nor obstructive lesions of the atrioventricular (A-V) arteries. Apparent moulding of A-V node and His bundle was a universal finding in both SIDS and ED, and consisted of irregular interdigitation of A-V node and His bundle fibers with the myxoid central fibrous body (CFB). Isolated bundles of conduction fibers residing in CFB and membranous ventricular septum were seen in two SIDS, but no direct contact between these fibers and the working myocardium could be identified in serial sections in either case. Without corroborating antemortem electrophysiologic data, the functional significance of morphologic findings in the conduction system of SIDS must remain conjectural.
- Copyright © 1976 by American Heart Association