Bioelectric and biomagnetic measurements are differentially sensitive to spiral currents

Observations indicate that different information is contained in electrocardiograms and magnetocardiograms in both patients and healthy volunteers. Closed loop currents could explain this phenomenon. We hypothesized that open loops, such as the spirally shaped currents in the heart, also contribute to these differences. We modeled two types of open spiral-shaped loops, based on the heart geometry, using 12 artificial current dipoles in a physical torso phantom. The electric potentials and magnetic fields were measured simultaneously with increasing numbers of active dipoles in the spiral source geometries. We found a continuous increase in the measured amplitudes of the magnetic fields, up to a plateau value when 10 active dipoles were enabled. For the electric potentials, we found that the amplitudes increased when up to six or eight active dipoles had been enabled, and then decreased thereafter. We conclude that open loop currents also contribute to the experimentally observed differences in magnetocardiograms and electrocardiograms in both patients and healthy volunteers. Combined bioelectric and biomagnetic measurements should provide greater insight into heart activity than do single modality measurements.


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This publication is with permission of the rights owner freely accessible due to an Alliance licence and a national licence (funded by the DFG, German Research Foundation) respectively.