Angiographic anatomy of the coronary sinus and its tributaries

Pacing Clin Electrophysiol. 1998 Nov;21(11 Pt 2):2280-4. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-8159.1998.tb01167.x.


Permanent left ventricular pacing has been shown to improve the hemodynamic and clinical status of patients with severe heart failure. To pace the left ventricle, the electrode is implanted in tributaries of the coronary sinus (CS). However, the anatomy of cardiac veins with this purpose in mind has not been described in detail.

Methods: One hundred consecutive patients admitted for coronary angiography had a simultaneous coronary venography performed after the injection of 8 to 10 mL of contrast material into the left coronary artery. Cardiac veins were analyzed in antero-posterior, left anterior oblique 60 degrees, and right anterior oblique 30 degrees views by three different observers. The number, dimension, angulation, and position of the coronary sinus and of its tributaries were studied.

Results: Two veins are consistently present: the middle cardiac vein (mean diameter 2.62 +/- 1.26 mm) and the great cardiac vein (mean diameter 3.55 +/- 1.24 mm). The left posterior vein(s) (LPV) (mean diameter 2.25 +/- 1.2 mm) is (are) variable in number (ranging from 0 to 3), size, and angulation. The absence of LPV limits the ability to pace the left ventricle endovenously. The diameter of the vein (< 2 mm) and its angulation may also complicate the insertion of the lead.

Conclusion: Angiographic analysis of dimensions, tortuosity, number, and angulation of venous tributaries of the CS seems to allow the insertion of commercially available pacing leads in approximately 85% of cases. An increase in this percentage hinges on the development of new, dedicated leads.

MeSH terms

  • Coronary Angiography
  • Coronary Vessels / anatomy & histology*
  • Electrodes, Implanted
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pacemaker, Artificial
  • Veins / anatomy & histology