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Anatomy and physiology of the atrioventricular node 

Anatomy and physiology of the atrioventricular node
Chapter:
Anatomy and physiology of the atrioventricular node
Author(s):

M. J. Pekka Raatikainen

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198784906.003.0452

April 23, 2020: This chapter has been re-evaluated and remains up-to-date. No changes have been necessary.

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date: 28 June 2022

The atrioventricular node (AVN) and the surrounding area is a crucial part of the cardiac conduction system. It consists of specialized tissue located at the base of the atrial septum within the triangle of Koch. The inherent physiological function of the AVN is to delay cardiac impulse propagation between the atria and the ventricles, and to function as a backup pacemaker in the setting of sinoatrial node dysfunction or advanced atrioventricular (AV) block. AV nodal conduction and pacemaker activity are under strict control by the autonomic nervous system. Due to the unique property of decremental conduction, the AVN protects the heart from an excessive ventricular rate during rapid atrial arrhythmias. On the other hand, the AVN is also an important source of brady- and tachyarrhythmias, and a target for various pharmacological and non-pharmacological arrhythmia therapies.

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