Table of Contents Author Guidelines Submit a Manuscript
BioMed Research International
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 731386, 15 pages
Research Article

A Computer Simulation Study of Anatomy Induced Drift of Spiral Waves in the Human Atrium

1College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences, University of Exeter, Exeter EX4 4QF, UK
2Department of Computer Science, University of Liverpool, Liverpool LS9 3BX, UK
3Institute for Biomedical Engineering, University of Karlsruhe (TH), 76131 Karlsruhe, Germany
4Biological Physics Group, Department of Physics, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, UK

Received 31 October 2014; Accepted 9 December 2014

Academic Editor: Michael Gotzmann

Copyright © 2015 Sanjay R. Kharche et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The interaction of spiral waves of excitation with atrial anatomy remains unclear. This simulation study isolates the role of atrial anatomical structures on spiral wave spontaneous drift in the human atrium. We implemented realistic and idealised 3D human atria models to investigate the functional impact of anatomical structures on the long-term (∼40 s) behaviour of spiral waves. The drift of a spiral wave was quantified by tracing its tip trajectory, which was correlated to atrial anatomical features. The interaction of spiral waves with the following idealised geometries was investigated: (a) a wedge-like structure with a continuously varying atrial wall thickness; (b) a ridge-like structure with a sudden change in atrial wall thickness; (c) multiple bridge-like structures consisting of a bridge connected to the atrial wall. Spiral waves drifted from thicker to thinner regions and along ridge-like structures. Breakthrough patterns caused by pectinate muscles (PM) bridges were also observed, albeit infrequently. Apparent anchoring close to PM-atrial wall junctions was observed. These observations were similar in both the realistic and the idealised models. We conclude that spatially altering atrial wall thickness is a significant cause of drift of spiral waves. PM bridges cause breakthrough patterns and induce transient anchoring of spiral waves.