fig1.mpg: movie version of Figure 1 from Mechanisms of vortices termination in the cardiac muscle

We propose a solution to a long-standing problem: how to terminate multiple vortices in the heart, when the locations of their cores and their critical time windows are unknown. We scan the phases of all pinned vortices in parallel with electric field pulses (E-pulses). We specify a condition on pacing parameters that guarantees termination of one vortex. For more than one vortex with significantly different frequencies, the success of scanning depends on chance, and all vortices are terminated with a success rate of less than one. We found that a similar mechanism terminates also a free (not pinned) vortex. A series of about 500 experiments with termination of ventricular fibrillation by E-pulses in pig isolated hearts is evidence that pinned vortices, hidden from direct observation, are significant in fibrillation. These results form a physical basis needed for the creation of new effective low energy defibrillation methods based on the termination of vortices underlying fibrillation.