Simplified 2D Bidomain Model of Whole Heart Electrical Activity and ECG Generation

Siniša Sovilj 1 , Ratko Magjarević 1 , Amr Al Abed 2 , Nigel H. Lovell 2  and Socrates Dokos 2
  • 1 Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing, University of Zagreb, 10000, Zagreb, Croatia
  • 2 Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering, University of New South Wales, 2052, Sydney, Australia


The aim of this study was the development of a geometrically simple and highly computationally-efficient two dimensional (2D) biophysical model of whole heart electrical activity, incorporating spontaneous activation of the sinoatrial node (SAN), the specialized conduction system, and realistic surface ECG morphology computed on the torso. The FitzHugh-Nagumo (FHN) equations were incorporated into a bidomain finite element model of cardiac electrical activity, which was comprised of a simplified geometry of the whole heart with the blood cavities, the lungs and the torso as an extracellular volume conductor. To model the ECG, we placed four electrodes on the surface of the torso to simulate three Einthoven leads VI, VII and VIII from the standard 12-lead system. The 2D model was able to reconstruct ECG morphology on the torso from action potentials generated at various regions of the heart, including the sinoatrial node, atria, atrioventricular node, His bundle, bundle branches, Purkinje fibers, and ventricles. Our 2D cardiac model offers a good compromise between computational load and model complexity, and can be used as a first step towards three dimensional (3D) ECG models with more complex, precise and accurate geometry of anatomical structures, to investigate the effect of various cardiac electrophysiological parameters on ECG morphology.

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