Electrical stimulation of cardiac tissue by a bipolar electrode in a conductive bath

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IEEE Trans. Biomed. Eng.




A three-dimensional (3-D) computer simulation of the electrical stimulation of passive cardiac tissue from a bipolar electrode placed within a conductive bath is presented. Through the bidomain model, the syncytial and anisotropic properties of cardiac tissue are taken into account; tissues with equal anisotropy and no transverse coupling are also considered. The membrane is represented by a capacitor and passive resistor in parallel. Located within an isotropic bath, the bipolar electrode is oriented either perpendicular or parallel to the tissue surface. For anisotropic tissue with a small cathode-tissue separation, the tissue surface is highly depolarized under the cathode with the depolarization persisting a considerable distance from the electrode in the transverse fiber direction. Adjacent to this region in the longitudinal direction, areas of hyperpolarization exist. At large distances from the cathode, the tissue surface is hyperpolarized in all directions when the electrode axis is perpendicular to the tissue. In the parallel case, surface depolarization creates buried regions of hyperpolarization. For the perpendicular configuration, the ratio of the steady-state maximum depolarization to steady-state maximum hyperpolarization, an estimate of the ratio of anodal to cathodal threshold, decreases rapidly with increasing cathode-tissue separation. In the parallel case, the depth of the conductive bath significantly affected the transmembrane potential distribution in the tissue. The use of a 3-D model more realistically simulates real-life electrical stimulation (such as stimulation with an implantable pacemaker) and provides insight into the effect of the volume conductor adjacent to the tissue.