Evaluating intramural virtual electrodes in the myocardial wedge preparation: simulations of experimental conditions

Biophys J. 2008 Mar 1;94(5):1904-15. doi: 10.1529/biophysj.107.121343. Epub 2007 Nov 9.


While defibrillation is the only means for prevention of sudden cardiac death, key aspects of the process, such as the intramural virtual electrodes (VEs), remain controversial. Experimental studies had attempted to assess intramural VEs by using wedge preparations and recording activity from the cut surface; however, applicability of this approach remains unclear. These studies found, surprisingly, that for strong shocks, the entire cut surface was negatively polarized, regardless of boundary conditions. The goal of this study is to examine, by means of bidomain simulations, whether VEs on the cut surface represent a good approximation to VEs in depth of the intact wall. Furthermore, we aim to explore mechanisms that could give rise to negative polarization on the cut surface. A model of wedge preparation was used, in which fiber orientation could be changed, and where the cut surface was subjected to permeable and impermeable boundary conditions. Small-scale mechanisms for polarization were also considered. To determine whether any distortions in the recorded VEs arise from averaging during optical mapping, a model of fluorescent recording was employed. The results indicate that, when an applied field is spatially uniform and impermeable boundary conditions are enforced, regardless of the fiber orientation VEs on the cut surface faithfully represent those intramurally, provided tissue properties are not altered by dissection. Results also demonstrate that VEs are sensitive to the conductive layer thickness above the cut surface. Finally, averaging during fluorescent recordings results in large negative VEs on the cut surface, but these do not arise from small-scale heterogeneities.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Algorithms*
  • Animals
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / prevention & control
  • Electric Countershock / instrumentation
  • Electric Countershock / methods*
  • Electrodes
  • Electrophysiology*
  • Heart Conduction System / metabolism
  • Heart Conduction System / pathology
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Models, Cardiovascular
  • Myocardial Contraction / physiology
  • Myocardium / metabolism*
  • Myocardium / pathology
  • Swine
  • Ventricular Fibrillation / pathology
  • Ventricular Fibrillation / prevention & control
  • Ventricular Fibrillation / therapy