Localization of the components of the cardiac conduction system (CCS) is essential for many therapeutic procedures in cardiac surgery and interventional cardiology. While histological studies provided fundamental insights into CCS localization, this information is incomplete and difficult to translate to aid in intraprocedural localization. To advance our understanding of CCS localization, we set out to establish a framework for quantifying nodal region morphology. Using this framework, we quantitatively analyzed the sinoatrial node (SAN) and atrioventricular node (AVN) in ovine with menstrual age ranging from 4.4 to 58.3 months. In particular, we studied the SAN and AVN in relation to the epicardial and endocardial surfaces, respectively. Using anatomical landmarks, we excised the nodes and adjacent tissues, sectioned those at a thickness of 4 µm at 100 µm intervals, and applied Masson’s trichrome stain to the sections. These sections were then imaged, segmented to identify nodal tissue, and analyzed to quantify nodal depth and superficial tissue composition. The minimal SAN depth ranged between 20 and 926 µm. AVN minimal depth ranged between 59 and 1192 µm in the AVN extension region, 49 and 980 µm for the compact node, and 148 and 888 µm for the transition to His Bundle region. Using a logarithmic regression model, we found that minimal depth increased logarithmically with age for the AVN (R2=0.818, P=0.002). Also, the myocardial overlay of the AVN was heterogeneous within different regions and decreased with increasing age. Age associated alterations of SAN minimal depth were insignificant. Our study presents examples of characteristic tissue patterns superficial to the AVN and within the SAN. We suggest that the presented framework provides quantitative information for CCS localization. Our studies indicate that procedural methods and localization approaches in regions near the AVN should account for the age of patients in cardiac surgery and interventional cardiology.
The Purkinje system (PS) and the His bundle have been recently implicated as an important driver of the rapid activation rate after 1-2 minutes of ventricular fibrillation (VF). It is unknown whether activations during VF propagate through the His-Purkinje system to other portions of the the working myocardium (WM). Little is known about restitution characteristic differences between the His bundle and working myocardium at short cycle lengths. In this study, rabbit hearts (n=9) were isolated, Langendorff- perfused, and electromechanically uncoupled with blebbistatin (10 μM). Pacing pulses were delivered directly to the His bundle. By using standard glass microelectrodes, action potentials duration (APD) from the His bundle and WM were obtained simultaneously over a wide range of stimulation cycle lengths (CL). The global F-test indicated that the two restitution curves of the His bundle and the WM are statistically significantly different (P<0.05). Also, the APD of the His bundle was significantly shorter than that of WM throughout the whole pacing course (P<0.001). The CL at which alternans developed in the His bundle vs. the WM were shorter for the His bundle (134.2±13.1ms vs. 148.3±13.3ms, P<0.01) and 2:1 block developed at a shorter CL in the His bundle than in WM (130.0±10.0 vs. 145.6±14.2ms, P<0.01). The His bundle APD was significantly shorter than that of WM under both slow and rapid pacing rates, which suggest that there may be an excitable gap during VF and that the His bundle may conduct wavefronts from one bundle branch to the other at short cycle lengths and during VF.