Sinus automaticity and sinoatrial conduction in severe symptomatic sick sinus syndrome

Delon Wu*, San Jou Yeh, Fun Chung Lin, Chun Chieh Wang, Wen Jin Cherng

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

22 Scopus citations


Electrophysiologic studies with recordings of sinus node electrograms were performed in 38 patients with severe symptomatic sick sinus syndrome. Thirty-two of the 38 patients had episodic tachyarrhythmias and 17 presented with syncope. The clinically documented sinus or atrial pause was 5.6 ± 2.8 s (mean ± SD). Patients were divided into three groups according to electrophysiologic findings. Group I consisted of nine patients with complete sinoatrial block. Sinus node electrograms were recorded during the episodes of long pauses. Seven patients had unidirectional exit block, with the atrial impulse being capable of retrograde penetration to the sinus node causing suppression of sinus automaticity; two had bidirectional sinoatrial block. Group II consisted of 22 patients with either 1:1 sinoatrial conduction (group IIa = 13 patients) or second degree sinoatrial exit block (group IIb = 9 patients) during spontaneous sinus rhythm. Sinoatrial exit block, ranging from 1 to >14 sinus beats, was observed during postpacing pauses that ranged from 1,650 to 37,000 ms (mean 7,286 ± 6,989). The maximal sinus node recovery time ranged from 770 to 5,580 ms (mean 3,004 ± 1,686) and was normal in 5 patients and prolonged in 17. Group III consisted of seven patient with no recordable sinus node electrogram, reflecting either a technical failure or a quiescence of sinus activity. The sinus node recovery time in these seven patients ranged from 1,190 to 4,260 ms (mean 2,949 ± 1, 121). Thus, abnormalities in both sinus node automaticity and sinoatrial conduction are responsible for the long sinus or atrial pauses in the sick sinus syndrome. However, complete sinoatrial exit block can occur and cause severe bradycardia with escape rhythm; repetitive sinoatrial exit block plays a major role in producing posttachycardia pauses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355-364
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American College of Cardiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 02 1992
Externally publishedYes


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