Cardiac potential and potential gradient fields generated by single, combined, and sequential shocks during ventricular defibrillation

J. Marcus Wharton, Patrick D. Wolf, William M. Smith, Peng Sheng Chen, David W. Frazier, Seitaro Yabe, Ned Danieley, Raymond E. Ideker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

121 Scopus citations


Background. Potential gradient field determination may be a helpful means of describing the effects of defibrillation shocks; however, potential gradient field requirements for defibrillation with different electrode configurations have not been established. Methods and Results. To evaluate the field requirements for defibrillation, potential fields during defibrillation shocks and the following ventricular activations were recorded with 74 epicardial electrodes in 12 open-chest dogs with the use of a computerized mapping system. Shock electrodes (2.64 cm2) were attached to the lateral right atrium (R), lateral left ventricular base (L), and left ventricular apex (V). Four electrode configurations were tested: single shocks of 14-msec duration given to two single anode-single cathode configurations, R:V and L:V, and to one dual anode-single cathode configuration, (R+L):V; and sequential 7-msec shocks separated by 1 msec given to R:V and L:V (R:V→L:V). Defibrillation threshold (DFT) current was significantly lower for R:V→L:V than for the other configurations and markedly higher for L:V. Despite these differences, the minimum potential gradients measured at DFT were not significantly different (approximately 6-7 V/cm for each electrode configuration). Potential gradient fields generated by the electrode configurations were markedly uneven, with a 15-27-fold change from lowest to highest gradient, with the greatest decrease in gradient occurring near the shock electrodes. Although gradient fields varied with the electrode configuration, all configurations produced weak fields along the right ventricular base. Early sites of epicardial activation after all unsuccessful shocks occurred in areas in which the field was weak; 87% occurred at sites with gradients less than 15 V/cm. Ventricular tachycardia originating in high gradient areas near shock electrodes followed 11 of 67 successful shocks. Conclusions. These data suggest that 1) defibrillation fields created by small epicardial electrodes are very uneven; 2) achievement of a certain minimum potential gradient over both ventricles is necessary for ventricular defibrillation; 3) the difference in shock strengths required to achieve this minimum gradient over both ventricles may explain the differences in DFTs for various electrode configurations; and 4) high gradient areas in the uneven fields can induce ectopic activation after successful shocks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1510-1523
Number of pages14
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • Defibrillation
  • Fields, gradient

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)

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