Correlative Electrophysiological and Anatomical Studies Concerning the Site of Origin of Escape Rhythm during Complete Atrioventricular Block in the Dog

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Abstract

SUMMARY

Complete heart block was produced in eight dogs by the selective perfusion of physostdgmine or neostigmine into the atrioventricular (AV) node artery. A characteristic escape AV junctional rhythm emerged in each dog. After reversal of the cholinesterase paralysis with atropine, in each dog partial heart block was produced by an incision into the AV nodal region. In three of these eight dogs, a second incision placed slightly more anteriorly produced complete AV block which was followed by the emergence of an escape AV junctional rhythm similar to the one produced pharmacologically. Hearts of these three dogs were examined hiatologically with serial sections to determine the exact location of the incisions and their relationship to the AV node and His bundle. In each dog the incision that produced complete heart block passed directly through the junction of AV node with His bundle. In this region previous studies had demonstrated numerous P cells, which are thought to be the site of origin of normal cardiac automaticity. In each of the three hearts there were abundant P cells in continuity-with the His bundle distal to the cut producing heart block. Significance of these findings is discussed relative to the locus of action of acetylcholine within the AV junction, the site of origin of AV junctional rhythm, and some aspects of the experimental and therapeutic production of heart block. Ore Res 45:108-119, 1979

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