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ST depression

Incorrect Machine Interpretation

Wed, 03/01/2017 - 23:07 -- Dawn

This ECG is presented as an example of INCORRECT MACHINE INTERPRETATION.  While there are many abnormalities in this ECG, it does not represent a paced rhythm. While there are exceptions, most paced rhythms represent either AV sequential pacing, right ventricular pacing, or bi-ventricular pacing.

RECOGNITION OF A PACED RHYTHM

Recognizing a paced rhythm can be difficult in some cases. Because pacemakers now have so many programmable features, there is a wide variety of ECG changes associated with them.  Pacer “spikes” can be difficult to see in all leads.  Finding evidence of the device on the patient’s chest or via patient history is a big help in reminding us to scrutinize the ECG for paced rhythm.

An AV sequential pacemaker or a right ventricular pacemaker will pace the ventricles via the right ventricle.  This produces a WIDE QRS and a leftward axis, often causing Leads II, III, and aVF to be negative and aVL and aVR to be positive.  Along with the wide QRS, we will see DISCORDANT ST CHANGES.  That is, there will be ST depression and T wave inversion in leads with positive QRS complexes and ST elevation and upright T waves in leads with negative QRS complexes.

Bi-ventricular pacing can be a little more complicated to recognize, as the QRS can be narrow, with signs of fusion between the wave produced by the LV electrode and the RV electrode.

The frontal plane axis is usually far right – aVR will be positive.  Lead I will be negative.

The machine is wrong:  there is no indication of a pacemaker, and P waves are present, even though they are not noted in the "PR Interval" or "P Axis".

SO, THIS IS NOT A PACED RHYTHM – WHAT IS IT?

Circumflex Occlusion with Posterior-lateral M.I.

Thu, 03/12/2015 - 13:00 -- Dawn

This ECG was obtained from a woman with chest pain who was taken to the cath lab and found to have a 100% occlusion of her circumflex artery.  

There are obvious ST segment elevations in Leads I and aVL, as well as in Lead II.  Lead II is the most leftward of the inferior wall leads, and I and aVL reflect the high lateral wall. She also has ST depressions in V1 through V3.  If you look closely at the R wave progression in the anterior leads, you will readily note that it appears that V1 and V3 wires have been reversed.  That being said, the "real" V2 and V3 have taller-than-normal R waves.  The tall R waves and ST depression are signs of "posterior wall M.I."  Recently, the actual definitions of the "lateral" wall and "posterior" wall have come into question.  However, the important thing clinically, is that this patient IS experiencing an ST elevation M.I. (STEMI), which was confirmed in the cath lab.  The locations of the ST changes were consistent with the 100% occlusion of her circumflex artery.

For our more advanced readers (and our "Gurus"), there is an interesting rhythm.  The P wave morphology changes frequently, even though the rhythm remains regular.  The rate, at 62 BPM, was adequate, and the patient did not suffer any consequential dysrhythmias during her procedure.  We don't have long-term followup information on her.



 

ECG Basics: Sinus Pause / Sinus Arrest

Thu, 12/12/2013 - 11:03 -- Dawn

This example of sinus arrest, also called sinus pause, shows a spontaneous return to sinus rhythm.  There are many mechanisms by which pauses can occur on the ECG. One concept for beginner students to grasp is that, if the pause contains the equivalent of regular R-to-R intervals, and the first complex after the pause is "on time",  we can expect that the sinus node kept firing, but did not penetrate the atria (exit block). If the pause is irregular in length, with the first beat after the pause seeming to come in randomly, we can call this sinus arrest or pause, understanding that there are many different mechanisms that can be at work here. Because what little we can see of the underlying sinus rhythm is irregular, or speeding up, we cannot discern absolutely that this is sinus arrest. 

The bottom line for the patient, and for any level practitioner, is, "how is the patient tolerating this pause, and what does it mean to the patient's overall prognosis?  In the short term, the patient may require emergency pacing while the cause of the dysfunction is investigated. If pauses are long enough to lower cardiac output, they can cause fainting. More than a few automobile accidents have happened as a result of this type of dysrhythmia. 

For more advanced students, this short rhythm strip (Lead II) reveals sloping ST depression, and indicates the urgent need for a 12-lead ECG and other tests. 

 

 

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