Atrioventricular Nodal Function in the Immature Canine Heart

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Previous studies have suggested that the atrioventricular nodal functional refractory period in the neonate is equal to or shorter than that of the ventricle, providing little or no protection to the ventricle against rapid atrial rates and allowing closely coupled atrial beats to fall within the ventricular vulnerable period. We evalu­ated atrioventricular node function in 21 mongrel neonatal puppies, 3-15 days old, and 15 adult dogs utilizing intracardiac His bundle recording and stimulation techniques. The mean atrioventricular nodal functional refractory period (173.1 ± 20.0 ms) exceeded both the ventricular effective refractory period (139.5 ± 14.3) and ventricular functional refractory period (163.3 ± 14.5) in the neonates. Furthermore, the atrioventricular node was the site of limiting antegrade conduction in all neonates. No ventric­ular arrhythmias were induced by atrial extrastimulation in any of the neonates. The site of conduction delay during atrial extrastimulation was confined to the atrioventricular node in 15/16 neonates (94%) while 1/16 (6%) had com­bined nodal and infranodal delay. The neonates developed Wenckebach, at significantly faster heart rates than the adults, but both groups developed Wenckebach at approx­imately twice the resting heart rate. Retrograde conduction was a consistent finding in the neonates. However, ante­grade Wenckebach occurred at a significantly faster heart rate than retrograde Wenckebach suggesting different functional properties. Our data suggest that in the neonatal canine, the atrioventricular node functional refractory period is longer than both the ventricular effective refrac­tory period and ventricular functional refractory period. Furthermore, the degree of protection offered by the neo­natal atrioventricular node to the ventricle appears to be comparable to that of the adult. © 1988 International Pediatric Research Foundation, Inc.



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