A computational study of mother rotor VF in the human ventricles

Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2009 Feb;296(2):H370-9. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00952.2008. Epub 2008 Dec 5.


Sudden cardiac death is one of the major causes of death in the industrialized world. It is most often caused by a cardiac arrhythmia called ventricular fibrillation (VF). Despite its large social and economical impact, the mechanisms for VF in the human heart yet remain to be identified. Two of the most frequently discussed mechanisms observed in experiments with animal hearts are the multiple wavelet and mother rotor hypotheses. Most recordings of VF in animal hearts are consistent with the multiple wavelet mechanism. However, in animal hearts, mother rotor fibrillation has also been observed. For both multiple wavelet and mother rotor VF, cardiac heterogeneity plays an important role. Clinical data of action potential restitution measured from the surface of human hearts have been recently published. These in vivo data show a substantial degree of spatial heterogeneity. Using these clinical restitution data, we studied the dynamics of VF in the human heart using a heterogeneous computational model of human ventricles. We hypothesized that this observed heterogeneity can serve as a substrate for mother rotor fibrillation. We found that, based on these data, mother rotor VF can occur in the human heart and that ablation of the mother rotor terminates VF. Furthermore, we found that both mother rotor and multiple wavelet VF can occur in the same heart depending on the initial conditions at the onset of VF. We studied the organization of these two types of VF in terms of filament numbers, excitation periods, and frequency domains. We conclude that mother rotor fibrillation is a possible mechanism in the human heart.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Algorithms
  • Catheter Ablation
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Electrocardiography
  • Heart Conduction System / pathology
  • Heart Conduction System / physiopathology*
  • Heart Conduction System / surgery
  • Heart Ventricles / pathology
  • Heart Ventricles / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional
  • Models, Anatomic*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Time Factors
  • Ventricular Fibrillation / pathology
  • Ventricular Fibrillation / physiopathology*
  • Ventricular Fibrillation / surgery
  • Ventricular Function*