Modeling defibrillation of the heart: approaches and insights

IEEE Rev Biomed Eng. 2011:4:89-102. doi: 10.1109/RBME.2011.2173761.


Cardiac defibrillation, as accomplished nowadays by automatic, implantable devices (ICDs), constitutes the most important means of combating sudden cardiac death. While ICD therapy has proved to be efficient and reliable, defibrillation is a traumatic experience. Thus, research on defibrillation mechanisms, particularly aimed at lowering defibrillation voltage, remains an important topic. Advancing our understanding towards a full appreciation of the mechanisms by which a shock interacts with the heart is the most promising approach to achieve this goal. The aim of this paper is to assess the current state-of-the-art in ventricular defibrillation modeling, focusing on both numerical modeling approaches and major insights that have been obtained using defibrillation models, primarily those of realistic ventricular geometry. The paper showcases the contributions that modeling and simulation have made to our understanding of the defibrillation process. The review thus provides an example of biophysically based computational modeling of the heart (i.e., cardiac defibrillation) that has advanced the understanding of cardiac electrophysiological interaction at the organ level and has the potential to contribute to the betterment of the clinical practice of defibrillation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Defibrillators, Implantable
  • Electric Countershock*
  • Heart / physiology
  • Heart / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Models, Cardiovascular*
  • Ventricular Fibrillation / therapy