Retrograde concealed conduction in the atrioventricular node: differential manifestations related to level of intranodal penetration.
Although concealed conduction in the atrioventricular node (AVN) has been the focus of numerous experimental and clinical studies, little is known about the differential effects on AVN functional behavior of prior concealed retrograde impulse penetration alone vs prior anterograde or dual AVN activation. This study was undertaken specifically to investigate this aspect of human AVN physiology in patients without intact ventriculoatrial conduction to provide a model with which to analyze concealed retrograde AVN conduction. In 13 such patients AVN behavior during a subsequent anterograde input was characterized for each of three different manners of prior AVN activation: anterograde alone (method I), simultaneous anterograde and retrograde excitation (method II), or equivalently timed retrograde concealed AVN penetration alone (method III). In all patients evidence for retrograde AVN concealment was documented by longer anterograde conduction in the AVN during method III than that observed when the retrograde impulse was omitted (method IV). Furthermore, in these patients lacking intact ventriculoatrial conduction, anterograde conduction in the AVN was facilitated and refractoriness was decreased during dual excitation vs anterograde activation alone (method II vs method I). However, when each of methods I and II were compared with concealed retrograde AVN penetration alone (method III), two patterns of AVN responses were observed: In 11 of 13 patients (group A) conduction in the AVN was "worse" and refractoriness was greater both in methods I and II compared with method III; in the remaining two patients (group B) the opposite relationships were observed. The results suggest that among patients with no ventriculoatrial AVN conduction there exist at least two subpopulations whose AVN functional characteristics differ markedly when the effects of anterograde and dual excitation are compared with equivalently timed concealed retrograde activation alone. These findings may be related to differences in level of retrograde AVN concealment in groups A and B, which can be unmasked by the outlined pacing techniques.
- Copyright © 1984 by American Heart Association