Objectives: This study was conducted to characterize the functional nature of the reentrant tract responsible for ventricular tachycardia due to ischemic heart disease.
Background: A zone of slow conduction forming the return path is though to form a critical component of the reentrant mechanism in ventricular tachycardia. Despite its importance, detailed knowledge of the return path is rare in clinical studies.
Methods: Multielectrode arrays were used intraoperatively to obtain unipolar and high gain bipolar recordings of left ventricular endocardium in patients undergoing map-directed surgical ablation of ventricular tachycardia. A total of 224 local electrograms were analyzed for each tachycardia.
Results: Of 10 consecutive patients undergoing intraoperative cardiac mapping, detailed recording of the return tracts of eight ventricular tachycardias were obtained in three patients. The recordings demonstrated that return tracts can be complex and extensive, with multiple paths of entry and exit. Potential and actual alternate paths were observed. Spontaneous and induced block occurred within portions of the complex. Intermittent block in one of two paths of entry resulted in intermittent cycle length changes of the tachycardia without a change in configuration. Block in one exit path resulted in a shift to alternative exit paths, with dramatic changes in ventricular activation and tachycardia configuration. Termination of the tachycardia could result from block close to the entrant or exit portion of the return tract. Different tachycardias were seen to share common portions of a return tract.
Conclusions: These observations enlarge and extend our knowledge of the functional repertoire of complex reentrant tracts that occur in infarct-related ventricular tachycardia. The use of common portions of a reentrant tract by several tachycardias is confirmed. Utilization of alternate pathways can account for changes in configuration and cycle length. Spontaneous and induced block can occur at points of entry and exit in a reentrant tract and may identify optimal targets for ablation attempts. Further advances will require greater emphasis on diastolic activation mapping.