Influence of selective parasympathectomy of the A-V nodal region on atrioventricular conduction in conscious dogs

Donna Dobrowolsky, Walter C. Randall, Marge J. Duff, John X. Thomas*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The maximum atrial paced rate with 1:1 atrioventricular conduction (Rmax) was compared before and after selective parasympathectomy of the atrioventricular nodal region (AVNR). Each animal was instrumented with right atrial and right ventricular bipolar electrodes. Rmax determined (1) under quietly resting, control conditions, (2) following β-adrenergic blockade, (3) following muscarinic blockade, and (4) following combined β-adrenergic and muscarinic blockade. During a second surgical procedure approximately two weeks later, parasympathectomy was achieved by dissection and topical application of phenol to the fat pad and underlying epicardium at the inferior left atrial junction with the inferior vena cava; completeness of AVNR parasympathectomy was tested at surgery by supramaximal stimulation of right and left cervical vagi, with and without rapid atrial pacing. AVNR sympathetic innervation remained intact. All studies were conducted while the animals were conscious and quietly resting. Before parasympathectomy, Rmax under control conditions averaged 136 ± b4 beats per minute (bpm). Following β-blockade, Rmax was 126 ± 5 bpm; while with muscarinic blockade, Rmax averaged 373 ± 4 bpm (P < 0.001, with control). With combined β- and muscarinic blockade, Rmax was 300 ± 14. After AVNR parasympathectomy, although the resting heart rate was unchanged, the Rmax under control conditions was 342 ± 10 bpm. β-Blockade reduced this significantly (P < 0.001) to 278 ± 15 bpm. With muscarinic blockade, Rmax averaged 346 ± 11 bpm, which was not different from the control Rmax after AVNR parasympathectomy. Combined β- and muscarinic blockade produced an Rmax of 280 ± 14 bpm. These experiments indicate a selective and differential parasympathetic regulation of the A-V region in conscious, resting dogs. Selective parasympathectomy of the atrioventricular nodal region results in conduction of impulses at very rapid rates to the ventricles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)155-160
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the Autonomic Nervous System
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1988


  • Atrioventricular conduction
  • Denervation
  • Neural control
  • Parasympathetic
  • Sympathetic
  • β-Blockade

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Physiology
  • Clinical Neurology


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