Newly created animal model of human postoperative junctional ectopic tachycardia

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Junctional ectopic tachycardia complicates the postoperative recovery from open heart surgery in children. The reported risk factors include younger age, prolonged cardiopulmonary bypass times, and administration of inotropic agents. Junctional ectopic tachycardia occurs early after open heart surgery, in the setting of relative postoperative sinus node dysfunction, and exhibits QRS morphology consistent with an origin from the atrioventricular node or proximal conduction system. Our goal was to develop a reproducible animal model for postoperative junctional ectopic tachycardia.


Eleven pigs, aged 2 to 4 months, underwent open heart surgery after induction of general anesthesia. Electrodes were sewn to the left atrium and right ventricle.


Sinus node dysfunction was created using clamp crushing without or with radiofrequency ablation (successful in 1 of 5 pigs) or sinus node removal (successful in 4 of 4). After prolonged cardiopulmonary bypass (>120 minutes) alone and with isoproterenol infusion, no spontaneous junctional ectopic tachycardia developed. Junctional ectopic tachycardia or fascicular tachycardia could be initiated after either slow atrioventricular nodal pathway ablation and/or digoxin administration. Junctional ectopic tachycardia occurred in 8 of 9 pigs (mean ventricular rate, 171 ± 32 bpm), and fascicular tachycardia occurred in 9 of 9 pigs (mean ventricular rate, 187 ± 39 bpm). His and right bundle recordings confirmed the conduction system origin.


Experimental junctional ectopic tachycardia or fascicular tachycardia can occur in the intraoperative setting of sinus node dysfunction, prolonged cardiopulmonary bypass, and enhanced conduction system automaticity. Conduction system automaticity occurred after either physical injury (ablation or tricuspid valve stretch) or measures to augment the transient inward current of the conduction system (isoproterenol and digoxin). This animal model can serve as the basis to assess new treatments of postoperative junctional ectopic tachycardia.

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