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J Cardiovasc Electrophysiol. 2009 Jun;20(6):675-84. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-8167.2008.01420.x. Epub 2009 Feb 2.

A tissue-specific model of reentry in the right atrial appendage.

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Bioengineering Institute, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.



Atrial fibrillation is prevalent in the elderly and contributes to mortality in congestive heart failure. Development of computer models of atrial electrical activation that incorporate realistic structures provides a means of investigating the mechanisms that initiate and maintain reentrant atrial arrhythmia. As a step toward this, we have developed a model of the right atrial appendage (RAA) including detailed geometry of the pectinate muscles (PM) and crista terminalis (CT) with high spatial resolution, as well as complete fiber architecture.


Detailed structural images of a pig RAA were acquired using a semiautomated extended-volume imaging system. The generally accepted anisotropic ratio of 10:1 was adopted in the computer model. To deal with the regional action potential duration heterogeneity in the RAA, a Courtemanche cell model and a Luo-Rudy cell model were used for the CT and PM, respectively. Activation through the CT and PM network was adequately reproduced with acceptable accuracy using reduced-order computer models. Using a train of reducing cycle length stimuli applied to a CT/PM junction, we observed functional block both parallel with and perpendicular to the axis of the CT.


With stimulation from the CT at the junction of a PM, we conclude: (a) that conduction block within the CT is due to a reduced safety factor; and (b) that unidirectional block and reentry within the CT is due to its high anisotropy. Regional differences in effective refractive period do not explain the observed conduction block.

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