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Circulation. 1987 Nov;76(5):1155-75.

Circus movement in the canine atrium around the tricuspid ring during experimental atrial flutter and during reentry in vitro.

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Department of Pharmacology, Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY 10032.


A Y-shaped lesion in the right atrium allows induction of atrial flutter in dogs. We recorded the activation sequence during this tachycardia from 96 endocardial bipolar electrodes using intracavitary electrode arrays during 12 separate episodes in three isolated perfused hearts. In each case a reentrant impulse circulated around the tricuspid valve orifice in either a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction. Cutting the pathway terminated the rhythm and prevented its reinduction. There was no discrete segment of markedly slow conduction in the reentrant circuit. The tachycardia cycle length was decreased by methacholine and increased by lidocaine. Reentry was also induced in atrial tissue around the tricuspid orifice when this structure was isolated and superfused in vitro. Tachycardia cycle lengths varied from 205 to 399 msec, depending on the circumference of the ring and temperature. Induction of tachycardia by premature stimulation depended on differences in the duration of the effective refractory period among parts of the ring. Conduction velocity was relatively uniform and was slower during tachycardias than during pacing at long cycle lengths. Analysis of the response to premature stimuli that reset the tachycardia provided evidence for incomplete recovery of excitability between depolarizations during the tachycardia. Fast-response action potentials were recorded throughout the pathway and up to six to eight cell layers deep. Histologic studies showed the supravalvular lamina, a circumferential band of fibers several cell layers below the endocardial surface, to be continuous around the tricuspid orifice. Propagation through this layer best explains the conduction velocities observed in the intact heart during flutter in this preparation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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