Regional entrainment of atrial fibrillation studied by high-resolution mapping in open-chest dogs.
BACKGROUND It recently has been demonstrated that during atrial fibrillation, a short and variable excitable gap exists, allowing regional control of atrial fibrillation by local stimulation. In the present study, we visualized the process of excitation during regional entrainment of atrial fibrillation by rapid pacing.
METHODS AND RESULTS In six open-chest dogs, the excitation of the left atrial free wall was mapped using a spoon-shaped mapping electrode (248 points). Episodes of atrial fibrillation were induced by burst pacing (50 Hz, 2 seconds). During atrial fibrillation, the electrograms showed rapid irregular activity with a median cycle length of 98 +/- 16 ms (mean +/- SD, n = 6). Rapid pacing in the center of the mapping electrode at intervals slightly shorter or longer than the median atrial fibrillation interval resulted in regional capture of atrial fibrillation. The window of entrainment was 16 +/- 5 ms. Mapping of atrial fibrillation showed that the left atrium was activated by fibrillatory wavelets coming from different directions. During entrainment, a relatively large area with a diameter of about 4 cm was activated by uniform wave fronts propagating away from the site of stimulation. The area of entrainment was limited by intra-atrial conduction block and by collision with fibrillation waves. Regional control of atrial fibrillation was lost by pacing either too slowly or too rapidly. In the first case, retrograde invasion of the area of entrainment by fibrillatory waves resulted in depolarization of the pacing site prior to the stimulus. Pacing too rapidly caused acceleration of atrial fibrillation by induction of local intra-atrial reentry circuits with a revolution time shorter than the pacing interval.
CONCLUSIONS During atrial fibrillation, an area with a diameter of about 4 cm can be entrained by local pacing. The resulting reduction in fibrillating tissue mass was not sufficient to terminate atrial fibrillation. Extension of the area of entrainment was limited by intra-atrial conduction block, whereas entrainment at a too high rate resulted in acceleration of atrial fibrillation by induction of local microreentry.
- Copyright © 1993 by American Heart Association