Translational Rabbit Model of Chronic Cardiac Pacing

J Vis Exp. 2023 Jan 6;(191). doi: 10.3791/64512.


Animal models of cardiac pacing are beneficial for testing novel devices, studying the pathophysiology of artificially paced heart rhythms, and studying arrhythmia-induced cardiomyopathies and subsequent heart failure. Currently, only a few such models are available, and they mostly require extensive resources. We report a new experimental cardiac pacing model in small mammals with the potential to study arrhythmia-induced heart failure. In six New Zealand white rabbits (mean weight: 3.5 kg) under general inhalational anesthesia the jugular region was dissected and a single pacing lead was inserted via the right external jugular vein. Using fluoroscopic guidance, the lead was further advanced to the right ventricular apex, where it was stabilized using passive fixation. A cardiac pacemaker was then connected and buried in a subcutaneous pocket. The pacemaker implantation was successful with good healing; the rabbit anatomy is favorable for the lead placement. During 6 months of follow-up with intermittent pacing, the mean sensed myocardial potential was 6.3 mV (min: 2.8 mV, max: 12 mV), and the mean lead impedance measured was 744 Ω (min: 370 Ω, max: 1014 Ω). The pacing threshold was initially 0.8 V ± 0.2 V and stayed stable during the follow-up. This present study is the first to present successful transvenous cardiac pacing in a small-mammal model. Despite the size and tissue fragility, human-size instrumentation with adjustments can safely be used for chronic cardiac pacing, and thus, this innovative model is suitable for studying the development of arrhythmia-induced cardiomyopathy and consequent heart failure pathophysiology.

Publication types

  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac
  • Cardiac Pacing, Artificial
  • Cardiomyopathies*
  • Heart Failure* / etiology
  • Heart Failure* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Mammals
  • Pacemaker, Artificial*
  • Rabbits