Interactions between extracellular stimuli and excitation waves in an atrial reentrant loop.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


Extracellular Stimuli in an Atrial Reentrant Loop.


The interactions between extracellular stimuli and excitation waves propagating in a reentrant loop are a complex function of stimulus parameters, structural properties, membrane state, and timing. Here the goal was a comprehensive understanding of the mechanisms and frequencies of the major interactions between the advancing excitation wave and a single extracellular stimulus, separated from issues of anatomic or geometric complexity.

Methods and results

A modernized computer model of a thin ring of uniform tissue that included a pair of extracellular stimulus electrodes (anode/cathode) was used to model one-dimensional cardiac reentry. Questions and results included the following: (1) What are the major interactions between a stimulus and the reentrant propagation wave, and are they induced near the cathode or near the anode; and, for each interaction, what are the initiating amplitude range and timing interval? At the cathode, the well-known mechanism of retrograde excitation terminated reentry; changes in timing or amplitude produced double-wave reentry or phase reset. At the anode, termination occurred at different cells depending on stimulus amplitude. (2) Relatively how often did termination occur at the anode? For most stimulus amplitudes, termination occurred more often at the anode than at the cathode, although not always at the same cell. (3) With random timing, what is the probability of terminating reentry? Stimulation for 5 msec terminated reentry with a probability from 0% to approximately 10%, as a function of increasing stimulus amplitude.


A single extracellular stimulus can initiate major changes in reentrant excitation via multiple mechanisms, even in a simple geometry. Termination of reentry, phase shifts, or double-wave reentry each occurs over well-defined ranges of stimulus amplitude and timing.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Johnson, CR; Barr, RC

Published Date

  • October 1, 2003

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 14 / 10

Start / End Page

  • 1064 - 1074

PubMed ID

  • 14521659

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1540-8167

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1045-3873

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1046/j.1540-8167.2003.02443.x


  • eng