Diversity and complexity of the cavotricuspid isthmus in rabbits: A novel scheme for classification and geometrical transformation of anatomical structures

PLoS One. 2022 Mar 1;17(3):e0264625. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0264625. eCollection 2022.


The aim of this study was to describe the morphology of the cavotricuspid isthmus (CTI) in detail and introduce a comprehensive scheme to describe the topology of this region based on functional considerations. This may lead to a better understanding of isthmus-dependent flutter and fibrillation and to improved intervention strategies. We used images of the cavotricuspid isthmus from 52 rabbits of both sexes with a median weight of 3.40 ± 0.93 kg. The area of the CTI was 124.25 ± 42.14 mm2 with 53.28 ± 21.13 mm2 covered by pectinate muscles connecting the terminal crest and the vestibule. Isthmus length decreased from inferolateral (13.09 ±2.14 mm) to central (9.85 ± 2.14 mm) to paraseptal (4.88 ± 1.96 mm) resembling the overall human geometry. Ramification sites of pectinate muscles were identified and six levels dividing the CTI from posterior to anterior were introduced. This allowed the classification of pectinate muscle segments based on the connected ramification level. To account for the high inter-individual variations in size and shape, the CTI was projected onto a normalized reference frame using bilinear transformation. Furthermore, two measures of complexity were introduced: (i) the ramification index, which reflects the total number of muscle segments connected to a ramification site and (ii) the complexity index, which reflects the type of ramification (branching or merging site). Topological analysis showed that the complexity of the pectinate muscle network decreases from inferolateral to paraseptal and that the number of electrically uncoupled parallel pathways increases in the central section between the terminal crest and the vestibule which introduces potential reentry pathways.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Atrial Flutter*
  • Catheter Ablation* / methods
  • Female
  • Heart Atria
  • Lagomorpha*
  • Male
  • Rabbits
  • Treatment Outcome

Grant support

The authors received no specific funding for this work.