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Pacing Clin Electrophysiol. 1978 Oct;1(4):426-38.

Characterization of atrial fibrillation in man: studies following open heart surgery.


The nature of localized atrial activation during atrial fibrillation was characterized in 34 patients following open heart surgery. Bipolar atrial electrograms (AEG) recorded in each patient with atrial fibrillation exhibited a myriad of sizes, shapes, polarities, amplitudes, and beat-to-beat intervals. On the basis of the AEG morphology and the nature of its baseline, we have classified the recordings into four Types. Type I was characterized by discrete AEG complexes separated by an isoelectric baseline free of perturbation, Type II by discrete AEG complexes but with perturbations of the baseline between complexes, Type III by AEGs which failed to demonstrate either discrete complexes or isoelectric intervals, and Type IV in which AEGs of Type III alternated with periods characteristic of Type I and/or Type II. In 22 patients, the AEGs were recorded a second time, and in 11 of these patients the type of atrial fibrillation changed between the first and second recording period. An atrial flutter-fibrillation pattern in the ECG was associated with a relatively ordered atrial activation pattern and a relatively slow atrial rate. Human atrial fibrillation is not an electrophysiologically homogeneous process when compared among different patients or ad seriatim in the same patient.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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