BACKGROUND Bradycardia-induced torsade de pointes (TdP) tachycardia in patients with spontaneous high-degree atrioventricular block (AVB) is common. The aim of this study was to analyze endocardial recordings during TdP in spontaneous high-degree AVB in humans to better understand the electrophysiological mechanisms underlying this phenomenon.
METHODS The study group consisted of 5 patients with typical episodes of TdP during spontaneous high-degree AVB. A standard (USCI) temporary bipolar endocardial catheter positioned at the apex of the right ventricle (RV) and bipolar chest leads from two precordial leads V1 and V4 were used to record the tracings during TdP.
RESULTS The presence of a wide spectrum of fragmentations was noted on endocardial electrograms (EGMs), which were invisible on the surface electrocardiogram (ECG) tracing. Endocardial signals indicated that TdP started in the proximity of the right ventricular apex, since the local EGM began prior to the QRS complex on the surface ECG. Early afterdepolarizations (EADs) were observed in 2 out of 5 cases confirming a common opinion about the mechanism of TdP. However, this phenomenon was not observed in 3 other patients suggesting that the arrhythmia was the result of a different mechanism originating in proximity to the RV apex.
CONCLUSIONS This work demonstrated early endocardial signals in the RV apex during TdP associated with high-degree AVB in humans, and exhibits a spectrum of fragmented signals in this area occurring on a single or multiple beats. These fragmentations indicate areas of poor conduction and various degrees of intramyocardial block, and therefore a new mechanism of TdP tachycardia in some patients with spontaneous high-degree AVB.