Open Access Research article

Non-invasive evaluation of ventricular refractoriness and its dispersion during ventricular fibrillation in patients with implantable cardioverter defibrillator

Jijian Luo, Carl Magnus Pripp, Eva Hertervig, Ole Kongstad, Erik Ljungström, S Bertil Olsson and Shiwen Yuan*

Author Affiliations

Department of Cardiology, University Hospital, Lund University, Lund, Sweden

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BMC Cardiovascular Disorders 2004, 4:8  doi:10.1186/1471-2261-4-8

Published: 9 June 2004



Local ventricular refractoriness and its dispersion during ventricular fibrillation (VF) have not been well evaluated, due to methodological difficulties.


In this study, a non-invasive method was used in evaluation of local ventricular refractoriness and its dispersion during induced VF in 11 patients with VF and/or polymorphic ventricular tachycardia (VT) who have implanted an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). Bipolar electrograms were simultaneously recorded from the lower oesophagus behind the posterior left ventricle (LV) via an oesophageal electrode and from the right ventricular (RV) apex via telemetry from the implanted ICD. VF intervals were used as an estimate of the ventricular effective refractory period (VERP). In 6 patients, VERP was also measured during sinus rhythm at the RV apex and outflow tract (RVOT) using conventional extra stimulus technique.


Electrograms recorded from the RV apex and the lower esophagus behind the posterior LV manifested distinct differences of the local ventricular activities. The estimated VERPs during induced VF in the RV apex were significantly shorter than that measured during sinus rhythm using extra stimulus technique. The maximal dispersion of the estimated VERPs during induced VF between the RV apex and posterior LV was that of 10 percentile VF interval (40 ± 27 ms), that is markedly greater than the previously reported dispersion of ventricular repolarization without malignant ventricular arrhythmias (30–36 ms).


This study verified the feasibility of recording local ventricular activities via oesophageal electrode and via telemetry from an implanted ICD and the usefulness of VF intervals obtained using this non-invasive technique in evaluation of the dispersion of refractoriness in patients with ICD implantation.