Similarities and differences in the arrangement of the atrioventricular conduction axis in the canine compared to the human heart

Heart Rhythm. 2021 Nov;18(11):1990-1998. doi: 10.1016/j.hrthm.2021.07.065. Epub 2021 Jul 30.


Background: Subtle differences exist between dog and human, despite use of the dog as a model for cardiac surgical and electrophysiological research.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate the differences in the atrioventricular conduction axis and adjacent structures between dogs and humans.

Methods: We prepared 33 human and 5 canine hearts for serial histologic sections of the atrioventricular conduction axis, making correlations with gross anatomic findings. We additionally examined and photographed 15 intact normal human hearts obtained from infants undergoing autopsy. Furthermore, we interrogated a computed tomographic dataset from a human adolescent and from 2 autopsied canine hearts, both with normal cardiac anatomy.

Results: All canine hearts lacked an inferoseptal recess, with the noncoronary leaflet of the aortic valve and the right fibrous trigone having direct attachments to the septal surface of the left ventricular outflow tract. This correlated with an extensive nonbranching component of the ventricular conduction axis, which skirted half of the noncoronary aortic sinus. This anatomic arrangement was observed in 2 of 15 of autopsied infant hearts. In the human hearts with an inferoseptal recess, the relatively shorter nonbranching bundle is embedded within the fibrous tissue forming its right wall.

Conclusion: We found a major difference between canine and the majority of human hearts, namely, the presence or absence of an inferoseptal recess. When this recess is absent, as in the canine heart and in some human hearts, a greater proportion of the atrioventricular conduction axis is found within the circumference of the subaortic outflow tract.

Keywords: Canine anatomy; Cardiac anatomy; Conduction system; Human anatomy; Left ventricle.

MeSH terms

  • Anatomy, Comparative
  • Animals
  • Atrioventricular Node / anatomy & histology*
  • Atrioventricular Node / diagnostic imaging
  • Dogs
  • Heart Conduction System / anatomy & histology
  • Heart Conduction System / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed