Characterization of the electrophysiological substrate in patients with Barlow's disease

J Cardiovasc Electrophysiol. 2021 Dec;32(12):3179-3186. doi: 10.1111/jce.15270. Epub 2021 Oct 28.


Background: Myxomatous mitral valve prolapse (MVP) and mitral-annular disjunction (Barlow disease) are at-risk for ventricular arrhythmias (VA). Fibrosis involving the papillary muscles and/or the infero-basal left ventricular (LV) wall was reported at autopsy in sudden cardiac death (SCD) patients with MVP.

Objectives: We investigated the electrophysiological substrate subtending VA in MVP patients with Barlow disease phenotype.

Methods: Twenty-three patients with VA were enrolled, including five with syncope and four with a history of SCD. Unipolar (Uni < 8.3 mV) and bipolar (Bi < 1.5 mV) low-voltage areas were analyzed with electro-anatomical mapping (EAM), and VA inducibility was evaluated with programmed ventricular stimulation (PES). Electrophysiological parameters were correlated with VA patterns, electrocardiogram (ECG) inferior negative T wave (nTW), and late gadolinium enhancement (LGE) assessed by cardiac magnetic resonance.

Results: Premature ventricular complex (PVC) burden was 12 061.9 ± 12 994.6/24 h with a papillary-muscle type (PM-PVC) in 18 patients (68%). Twelve-lead ECG showed nTW in 12 patients (43.5%). A large Uni less than 8.3 mV area (62.4 ± 45.5 cm2 ) was detected in the basal infero-lateral LV region in 12 (73%) patients, and in the papillary muscles (2.2 ± 2.9 cm2 ) in 5 (30%) of 15 patients undergoing EAM. A concomitant Bi less than 1.5 mV area (5.0 ± 1.0 cm2 ) was identified in two patients. A history of SCD, and the presence of nTW, and LGE were associated with a greater Uni less than 8.3 mV extension: (32.8 ± 3.1 cm2 vs. 9.2 ± 8.7 cm2 ), nTW (20.1 ± 11.0 vs. 4.1 ± 3.8 cm2 ), and LGE (19.2 ± 11.7 cm2 vs. 1.0 ± 2.0 cm2 , p = .013), respectively. All patients with PM-PVC had a Uni less than 8.3 mV area. Sustained VA (ventricular tachycardia 2 and VF 2) were induced by PES only in four patients (one with resuscitated SCD).

Conclusions: Low unipolar low voltage areas can be identified with EAM in the basal inferolateral LV region and in the papillary muscles as a potential electrophysiological substrate for VA and SCD in patients with MVP and Barlow disease phenotype.

Keywords: mitral valve prolapse; papillary muscles; premature ventricular complexes; risk stratification; sudden death; ventricular fibrillation; ventricular tachycardia.