A detailed assessment of the human coronary venous system using contrast computed tomography of perfusion-fixed specimens

Julianne H. Spencer, Allison A. Larson, Rachel Drake, Paul A. Iaizzo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background Access to the coronary venous system is required for the delivery of several cardiac therapies including cardiac resynchronization therapy, coronary sinus ablation, and coronary drug delivery. Therefore, characterization of the coronary venous anatomy will provide insights to gain improved access to these vessels and subsequently improved therapies. For example, cardiac resynchronization therapy has a 30% nonresponder rate, partially due to suboptimal lead placement within the coronary veins. Objective To understand the implications of coronary venous anatomy for the development of devices deployed within these vessels. Methods We cannulated the coronary sinus of 121 perfusion-fixed human hearts with a venogram balloon catheter and injected contrast into the venous system while obtaining computed tomographic images. For each major coronary vein, distance to the coronary sinus, branching angle, arc length, tortuosity, number of branches, and ostial diameter were assessed from the reconstructed anatomy. Results Twenty-nine percent (35/121) specimens did not have a venous branch overlying the inferolateral side of the heart large enough to fit a 5F pacing lead. No significant differences in anatomy were found between subgroups with varying cardiac medical histories. Conclusion The anatomical approach employed in this study has allowed for the development of a unique database of human coronary venous anatomy that can be used for the optimization of design and delivery of cardiac devices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)282-288
Number of pages7
JournalHeart Rhythm
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded through a “What If” Grant from the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Engineering in Medicine and a research contract from Medtronic.


  • Anatomy
  • Cardiac
  • Coronary
  • Pacing
  • Vein


Dive into the research topics of 'A detailed assessment of the human coronary venous system using contrast computed tomography of perfusion-fixed specimens'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this