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A new algorithm to diagnose atrial ectopic origin from multi lead ECG systems - insights from 3D virtual human atria and torso

Alday, Erick A. Perez; Colman, Michael A.; Langley, Philip; Butters, Timothy D.; Higham, Jonathan; Workman, Antony J.; Hancox, Jules C.; Zhang, Henggui


Erick A. Perez Alday

Michael A. Colman

Philip Langley

Timothy D. Butters

Jonathan Higham

Antony J. Workman

Jules C. Hancox

Henggui Zhang


Alexander V. Panfilov


Rapid atrial arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation (AF) predispose to ventricular arrhythmias, sudden cardiac death and stroke. Identifying the origin of atrial ectopic activity from the electrocardiogram (ECG) can help to diagnose the early onset of AF in a cost-effective manner. The complex and rapid atrial electrical activity during AF makes it difficult to obtain detailed information on atrial activation using the standard 12-lead ECG alone. Compared to conventional 12-lead ECG, more detailed ECG lead configurations may provide further information about spatio-temporal dynamics of the body surface potential (BSP) during atrial excitation. We apply a recently developed 3D human atrial model to simulate electrical activity during normal sinus rhythm and ectopic pacing. The atrial model is placed into a newly developed torso model which considers the presence of the lungs, liver and spinal cord. A boundary element method is used to compute the BSP resulting from atrial excitation. Elements of the torso mesh corresponding to the locations of the placement of the electrodes in the standard 12-lead and a more detailed 64-lead ECG configuration were selected. The ectopic focal activity was simulated at various origins across all the different regions of the atria. Simulated BSP maps during normal atrial excitation (i.e. sinoatrial node excitation) were compared to those observed experimentally (obtained from the 64-lead ECG system), showing a strong agreement between the evolution in time of the simulated and experimental data in the P-wave morphology of the ECG and dipole evolution. An algorithm to obtain the location of the stimulus from a 64-lead ECG system was developed. The algorithm presented had a success rate of 93%, meaning that it correctly identified the origin of atrial focus in 75/80 simulations, and involved a general approach relevant to any multi-lead ECG system. This represents a significant improvement over previously developed algorithms.


Alday, E. A. P., Colman, M. A., Langley, P., Butters, T. D., Higham, J., Workman, A. J., …Zhang, H. (2015). A new algorithm to diagnose atrial ectopic origin from multi lead ECG systems - insights from 3D virtual human atria and torso. PLoS Computational Biology, 11(1), Article e1004026.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 5, 2014
Online Publication Date Jan 22, 2015
Publication Date Jan 22, 2015
Deposit Date Oct 21, 2015
Publicly Available Date Nov 23, 2017
Journal PLoS computational biology
Print ISSN 1553-734X
Electronic ISSN 1553-7358
Publisher Public Library of Science
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 11
Issue 1
Article Number e1004026
Keywords Atrial arrhythmias, Diagnosis, Atrial fibrillation, Electrocardiography, Methodology, Body surface mapping, Spatio-temporal variation, Electrical conductivity measurement
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Copy of article first published in: PLoS computational biology, 2015, v.11, issue 1.


Article.pdf (5.3 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2015 Alday et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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