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Open Access Research article

A simulation study of the reaction of human heart to biphasic electrical shocks

lulia M Popp, Gunnar Seemann and Olaf Dössel

Author Affiliations

Institute of Biomedical Engineering, University Karlsruhe(TH), Kaiserstr. 12, 76131, Germany

BMC Cardiovascular Disorders 2004, 4:9  doi:10.1186/1471-2261-4-9

Published: 22 June 2004



This article presents a study, which examines the effects of biphasic electrical shocks on human ventricular tissue. The effects of this type of shock are not yet fully understood. Animal experiments showed the superiority of biphasic shocks over monophasic ones in defibrillation. A mathematical computer simulation can increase the knowledge of human heart behavior.


The research presented in this article was done with different models representing a three-dimensional wedge of ventricular myocardium. The electrophysiology was described with Priebe-Beuckelmann model. The realistic fiber twist, which is specific to human myocardium was included. Planar electrodes were placed at the ends of the longest side of the virtual cardiac wedge, in a bath medium. They were sources of electrical shocks, which varied in magnitude from 0.1 to 5 V. In a second arrangement ring electrodes were placed directly on myocardium for getting a better view on secondary electrical sources. The electrical reaction of the tissue was generated with a bidomain model.


The reaction of the tissue to the electrical shock was specific to the initial imposed characteristics. Depolarization appeared in the first 5 ms in different locations. A further study of the cardiac tissue behavior revealed, which features influence the response of the considered muscle. It was shown that the time needed by the tissue to be totally depolarized is much shorter when a biphasic shock is applied. Each simulation ended only after complete repolarization was achieved. This created the possibility of gathering information from all states corresponding to one cycle of the cardiac rhythm.


The differences between the reaction of the homogeneous tissue and a tissue, which contains cleavage planes, reveals important aspects of superiority of biphasic pulses. ...