The quantitative assessment of epicardial fat distribution on human hearts: Implications for epicardial electrophysiology

Alexander R. Mattson, Mario J. Soto, Paul A Iaizzo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Epicardial electrophysiological procedures rely on dependable interfacing with the myocardial tissue. For example, epicardial pacing systems must generate sustainable chronic pacing capture, while epicardial ablations must effectively deliver energy to the target hyper-excitable myocytes. The human heart has a significant adipose layer which may impede epicardial procedures. The objective of this study was to quantitatively assess the relative location of epicardial adipose on the human heart, to define locations where epicardial therapies might be performed successfully. We studied perfusion-fixed human hearts (n = 105) in multiple isolated planes including: left ventricular margin, diaphragmatic surface, and anterior right ventricle. Relative adipose distribution was quantitatively assessed via planar images, using a custom-generated image analysis algorithm. In these specimens, 76.7 ± 13.8% of the left ventricular margin, 72.7 ± 11.3% of the diaphragmatic surface, and 92.1 ± 8.7% of the anterior right margin were covered with superficial epicardial adipose layers. Percent adipose coverage significantly increased with age (P < 0.001) and history of coronary artery disease (P < 0.05). No significant relationships were identified between relative percent adipose coverage and gender, body weight or height, BMI, history of hypertension, and/or history of congestive heart failure. Additionally, we describe two-dimensional probability distributions of epicardial adipose coverage for each of the three analysis planes. In this study, we detail the quantitative assessment and probabilistic mapping of the distribution of superficial epicardial adipose on the adult human heart. These findings have implications relative to performing epicardial procedures and/or designing procedures or tools to successfully perform such treatments. Clin. Anat. 31:661–666, 2018.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)661-666
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Anatomy
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Contract grant sponsor: Medtronic (Minneapolis, MN, USA) and the Institute for Engineering in Medicine at the University of Minnesota.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


  • cardiac electrophysiology
  • catheter ablation
  • epicardial adipose


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