Excitable media, such as the heart, display propagating waves with different geometries including target patterns and rotors (spiral waves). Collision of two waves leads to annihilation of both. We present algorithms for data processing and analysis to identify the core of rotors. In this work, we show that as the spatial sampling resolution decreases it becomes increasingly difficult to identify rotors—there are instances of false negatives and false positives. These observations are relevant to current controversies concerning the role of rotors in the initiation, maintenance, and treatment of cardiac arrhythmias, especially atrial fibrillation. Currently some practitioners target the core of rotors for ablation, but the effectiveness of this procedure has been questioned. In view of the difficulties inherent in the identification of rotors, we conclude that methods to identify rotors need to first be validated prior to assessing the efficacy of ablation.

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