Direct evidence of the role of virtual electrode-induced phase singularity in success and failure of defibrillation

Igor R. Efimov*, Yuanna Cheng, Yoshio Yamanouchi, Patrick J. Tchou

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Virtual Electrodes in Defibrillation. Introduction: We recently demonstrated that virtual electrode-induced phase singularity is responsible for arrhythmogenesis during T wave shocks and explains the upper and lower limits of vulnerability. Furthermore, we suggested that the same mechanism might be responsible for defibrillation failure. The aim of this study was to experimentally support this hypothesis. Methods and Results: We used the voltage-sensitive dye di-4-ANEPPS and fast imaging to assess electrical activity in Langendorff-perfused rabbit hearts. Ventricular arrhythmias were induced by monophasic shocks applied during T wave. Three types of defibrillation shocks (n = 79) were delivered from an intravenous right ventricular electrode: monophasic (8 msec), optimal biphasic (8/8 msec, 2/1 leading-edge voltage ratio), and nonoptimal biphasic (8/8 msec, 1/1 leading-edge voltage ratio). We found that a monophasic shock extinguished arrhythmic pattern of electrical activity via a virtual electrode polarization effect. However, the virtual electrode polarization was likely to produce phase singularities, leading to another arrhythmia and defibrillation failure. Nonoptimal biphasic shocks produced similar effects. Optimal biphasic shocks were successful because the first phase of the shock erased the arrhythmia via the virtual electrodes effect, whereas the second phase canceled the virtual electrodes, eliminating the substrate for phase singularities and arrhythmia resulting from them. Conclusion: Our data provide the first experimental support of the hypothesis implicating virtual electrode-induced phase singularity in defibrillation failure in the Langendorff-perfused rabbit heart. Optimal biphasic shock has a higher defibrillation efficacy because it does not produce virtual electrode-induced phase singularities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)861-868
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of cardiovascular electrophysiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2000


  • Arrhythmia
  • Defibrillation
  • Reentry
  • Sudden death
  • Ventricles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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