Simultaneous recordings of intrinsic cardiac nerve activity and skin sympathetic nerve activity from human patients during the postoperative period

Mark J. Shen, Arthur C. Coffey, Susan Straka, David E. Adams, David B. Wagner, Richard J. Kovacs, Michael Clark, Changyu Shen, Lan S. Chen, Thomas H. Everett, Shien Fong Lin, Peng Sheng Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations


Background Intrinsic cardiac nerve activity (ICNA) and skin nerve activity (SKNA) are both associated with cardiac arrhythmias in dogs. Objective The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that ICNA and SKNA correlate with postoperative cardiac arrhythmias in humans. Methods Eleven patients (mean age 60 ± 13 years; 4 women) were enrolled in this study. Electrical signals were simultaneously recorded from electrocardiogram (ECG) patch electrodes on the chest wall and from 2 temporary pacing wires placed during open heart surgery on the left atrial epicardial fat pad. The signals were filtered to display SKNA and ICNA. Premature atrial contractions (PACs) and premature ventricular contractions were determined manually. The SKNA and ICNA of the first 300 minutes of each patient were calculated minute by minute to determine baseline average amplitudes of nerve activities and to determine their correlation with arrhythmia burden. Results We processed 1365 ± 973 minutes of recording per patient. Low-amplitude SKNA and ICNA were present at all time, while the burst discharges were observed much less frequently. Both SKNA and burst ICNA were significantly associated with the onset of PACs and premature ventricular contractions. Baseline average ICNA (aICNA), but not average SKNA, had a significant association with PAC burden. The correlation coefficient (r) between aICNA and PAC burden was 0.78 (P <.01). A patient with the greatest aICNA developed postoperative atrial fibrillation. Conclusion ICNA and SKNA can be recorded from human patients in the postoperative period. The baseline magnitude of ICNA correlates with PAC burden and development of postoperative atrial fibrillation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1587-1593
Number of pages7
JournalHeart Rhythm
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2017


  • Arrhythmias
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Open heart surgery
  • Premature atrial contractions
  • Premature ventricular contractions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)

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