Modeling bipolar stimulation of cardiac tissue

TitleModeling bipolar stimulation of cardiac tissue
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsGalappaththige, Suran K., Gray Richard A., and Roth Bradley J.
JournalChaos: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Nonlinear Science

Unipolar stimulation of cardiac tissue is often used in the design of cardiac pacemakers because of the low current required to depolarize the surrounding tissue at rest. However, the advantages of unipolar over bipolar stimulation are not obvious at shorter coupling intervals when the tissue near the pacing electrode is relatively refractory. Therefore, this paper analyzes bipolar stimulation of cardiac tissue. The strength-interval relationship for bipolar stimulation is calculated using the bidomain model and a recently developed parsimonious ionic current model. The strength-interval curves obtained using different electrode separations and arrangements (electrodes placed parallel to the fibers versus perpendicular to the fibers) indicate that bipolar stimulation results in more complex activation patterns compared to unipolar stimulation. An unusually low threshold stimulus current is observed when the electrodes are close to each other (a separation of 1 mm) because of break excitation. Unlike for unipolar stimulation, anode make excitation is not present during bipolar stimulation, and an abrupt switch from anode break to cathode make excitation can cause dramatic changes in threshold with very small changes in the interval. These results could impact the design of implantable pacemakers and defibrillators.