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Previous mapping studies of sinus rhythm suggest faster rates arise from more cranial sites within the lateral right atrium. In the intact, beating heart, mapping has been limited to epicardial plaques or single endocardial catheters. The present study was designed to examine shifts in the site of the earliest endocardial depolarization during sinus rhythm and sinus tachycardia using high density activation mapping. Noncontact mapping of the right atrium during sinus rhythm was performed on ten anesthetized swine. Recordings were made during sinus rhythm, phenylephrine infusion, and isoproterenol infusion. The hearts were then excised and the histological sinus node identified. The mean minimum and maximum cycle lengths recorded were 355 ± 43 and 717 ± 108 ms. A median of three (range two to five) sites of earliest endocardial depolarization were documented in each animal. With increasing heart rate the site of earliest endocardial depolarization remained stationary until a sudden shift in a cranial or caudal direction, often to sites beyond the histological sinoatrial node. The endocardial shift was unpredictable with considerable variation between animals; however, faster rates arose from more cranial sites (r = 0.46, P = 0.023). There was no difference in the mean cycle length of sinus rhythm originating from specific positions on the terminal crest (r = 0.44, P = 0.17). Cranial sites displayed a more diffuse pattern of early depolarization than caudal sites. In the porcine heart the relationship between heart rate and site of earliest endocardial depolarization shows considerable variation between individual animals. These findings may have implications for clinical mapping and ablation procedures.


Journal article


PACE - Pacing and Clinical Electrophysiology

Publication Date





874 - 882