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INTRODUCTION: Previous mapping studies of right atrial (RA) activation during sinus rhythm have been limited by the use of epicardial electrode plaques in open chest subjects or microelectrodes in the excised heart. This study describes global RA endocardial activation patterns using high-density mapping and compares the results with underlying endocardial architecture. METHODS AND RESULTS: Noncontact mapping of the RA was performed in 21 anesthetized swine. Isopotential and isochronal maps were superimposed upon three-dimensional reconstructions of RA geometry. Hearts were excised and endocardial dissection performed. Two patterns of RA activation were recorded. The site of earliest endocardial activation occurred either laterally at a position consistent with the terminal crest or superiorly at the junction between the superior caval vein and RA appendage. The subsequent spread of depolarization followed the longitudinal orientation of muscle fibers. Areas of conduction delay and block were seen at the junction between the terminal crest and posterior wall, the cavotricuspid isthmus, and around the margins of the triangle of Koch. Endocardial dissection at these sites demonstrated complex fiber orientation. A lateral site of earliest activation demonstrated a more prominent display of conduction delay or block. CONCLUSION: The spread of the sinus impulse follows endocardial myofiber orientation and is dictated by the site of earliest activation. Even during sinus rhythm, anisotropic conduction results in areas of conduction block or delay. These findings have implications in the development of reentrant arrhythmias and may influence surgical or electrophysiologic procedures.


Journal article


J Cardiovasc Electrophysiol

Publication Date





1152 - 1159


Animals, Electrophysiology, Endocardium, Heart, Heart Atria, Heart Rate, Neural Conduction, Sinoatrial Node, Swine, Time Factors