Spontaneous atrial flutter in a chronic canine model of the modified fontan operation

Sanjiv K. Gandhi*, Burt I. Bromberg, Mark D. Rodefeld, Richard B. Schuessler, John P. Boineau, James Lewis Cox, Charles B. Huddleston

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Objectives. This study sought to 1) establish whether the atrial flutter (AFL) inducible acutely occurs spontaneously in a chronic canine model, and 2) characterize any reentrant circuits present chronically. Background. We previously demonstrated, in an acute canine model of the modified Fontan operation, that the lateral tunnel suture line creates a sufficient electrophysiologic substrate for AFL. Methods. Using cardiopulmonary bypass, a suture line was placed through a right atriotomy in adult dogs (n = 7) to simulate the lateral tunnel of the Fontan operation. Holter recordings were made preoperatively, on the first postoperative day and 2, 4 and 6 weeks postoperatively. At 6 to 8 weeks, through bilateral ventriculotomies, 253- point unipolar atrial electrodes were inserted. AFL was induced using atrial burst pacing, and endocardial activation sequence maps were created. Results. Preoperatively, all dogs were in sinus rhythm. Spontaneous AFL occurred in all dogs postoperatively, with a mean (±SD) cycle length of 192 ± 22 ms. At 6 weeks postoperatively, of six dogs that survived, four had intermittent AFL, and two had incessant AFL. At reoperation, sustained AFL was inducible in six of six dogs, with a mean cycle length of 194 ± 17 ms. Activation sequence maps demonstrated conduction block at the lateral tunnel suture line, which facilitated unidirectional conduction critical for propagation of the reentrant circuit. The AFL circuit was similar to that observed acutely. Conclusions. In a chronic canine model of the modified Fontan operation, the lateral tunnel suture line alone, in the absence of atrial stretch or hypertension, provides an electrophysiologic substrate that promotes spontaneous AFL. This model may be useful for evaluating various forms of treatment and prevention of AFL after the Fontan operation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1095-1103
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American College of Cardiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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