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Heart Rhythm. 2016 Jan;13(1):282-8. doi: 10.1016/j.hrthm.2015.08.022. Epub 2015 Aug 14.

Targeted stellate decentralization: Implications for sympathetic control of ventricular electrophysiology.

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Cardiac Arrhythmia Center & Neurocardiology Research Center, UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California.
Cardiac Arrhythmia Center & Neurocardiology Research Center, UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California. Electronic address:



Selective bilateral cervicothoracic sympathectomy has proven to be effective for managing ventricular arrhythmias in the setting of structural heart disease. In the procedure currently used, the caudal portions of both stellate ganglia along with thoracic chain ganglia down to T4 ganglia are removed.


The purpose of this study was to define the relative contributions of the T1-T2 and T3-T4 paravertebral ganglia in modulating ventricular electrical function.


In anesthetized vagotomized porcine subjects (n = 8), the heart was exposed via sternotomy along with right and left paravertebral sympathetic ganglia to the T4 level. A 56-electrode epicardial sock was placed over both ventricles to assess epicardial activation-recovery intervals (ARIs) in response to individually stimulating right and left stellate vs T3 paravertebral ganglia. Responses to T3 stimuli were repeated after surgical removal of the caudal portions of stellate ganglia and T2 bilaterally.


In intact preparations, stellate ganglion vs T3 stimuli (4 Hz, 4-ms duration) were titrated to produce equivalent decreases in global ventricular ARIs (right side: 85 ± 6 ms vs 55 ± 10 ms; left side: 24 ± 3 ms vs 17 ± 7 ms). Threshold of stimulus intensity applied to T3 ganglia to achieve threshold was 3 times that of T1 threshold. ARIs in unstimulated states were unaffected by bilateral stellate-T2 ganglion removal. After acute decentralization, T3 stimulation failed to change ARIs.


Preganglionic sympathetic efferents arising from the T1-T4 spinal cord that project to the heart transit through stellate ganglia via the paravertebral chain. Thus, T1-T2 surgical excision is sufficient to functionally interrupt central control of peripheral sympathetic efferent activity.


Stellate ganglion; Sudden death; Sympathectomy; Sympathetic efferent neurons; Ventricular arrhythmia; Ventricular electrical indices

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