Journal of Undergraduate Research


Sihler's Stain, cardiac conduction nerve fibers, arrhythmia


Life Sciences


Physiology and Developmental Biology


Arrhythmia is a serious heart condition that affects 14 million people in the United Statesi, and is characterized by irregular frequency of atrial and ventricular beats.ii The most serious effects of arrhythmia include sudden cardiac arrest and stroke.iii About 383,000 cases of cardiac arrest are recorded annually in the United States alone.iv In a report complied in 2011 by the World Health Organization, stroke has the second highest death rate of any disease worldwide, ending the lives of 6.1 million people annually.v Recent developments in cardiac ablation have helped in the treatment of arrhythmia by inducing scarring of regions of the heart believed to be propagating the arrhythmic electrical impulses from the cardiac conduction system. By proper use of cardiac ablation, arrhythmia can be corrected.vi Although cardiac ablation has been effective for ameliorating arrhythmia in regions of the heart that are commonly affected, the method could be improved, especially for non-commonly affected regions of the heart, by providing a data-driven, statistical map of cardiac plexus innervation of the myocardium. We propose to produce a three-dimensional map that will greatly improve targeted ablation, and therefore, clinical outcomes. Until now, only rudimentary drawings have been the source of study for cardiologists specializing in this procedure. By properly articulating the intricate nerve branching of the heart, surgeons will be able to better target the specific cardiac plexus fiber territories thus allowing a less invasive procedure.

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