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Posts Tagged ‘clinical diagnosis of vt’

Wide qrs tachycardia often  evoke a   OCD like reaction  among  many  cardiologists (Obsessive compulsive disorder).  Whenever we are given a strip of wide qrs tachycardia  we are compelled to initiate a  conscious or  subconscious debate , whether it is VT  or SVT . Tens of thousands of articles, seminars, CMEs , have been conducted for over 30 years  for  decoding  wide qrs tachycardias  . The fact that the confusion  is still widely prevalent indicate only two things

  1. Either , it is not possible to arrive at a simple fool proof  bed side modality  to confirm either VT or SVT
  2. Or it is a too trivial  electrophysiological   issue  that   need  not be worried about  as we have broad spectrum antiarrhythmics (Like antibiotics ! , where we  rarely  bother about identity of the culprit  bacteria  )

The power of statistics and commonsense have never been applied  in the management this vital cardiac entity  .While a  75% sensitive  exercise  stress test (EST) has a huge following in clinical cardiology , a   99 % sensitive   clinical criteria*  for diagnosing VT is  not respected .

*All wide QRS  tachycardia  in patients with   with history of   CAD/STEMI would be VT

If only we had applied our mind to this article published in 1988 we will never ever have the need to split our hairs for decades.(That too without success !)

In  pursuit of  knowledge , are we often  chasing  an imaginary  issue ?

The cardinal  principle of medicine says

“Diagnosis should precede treatment  whenever possible

But there need to be a correction  in the above statement .  Time , effort , cost involved in arriving at a  diagnosis  should be meaningful .( Needless to say  . . . it should  a correct diagnosis  too ) And if the power of statistics far exceeds the  frivolous scientific data  , street sense can be applied  liberally even though current generation may call it un scientific .

The issue here is  not being  scientific or unscientific , but whether you are right or wrong  . The article  which is quoted here  has a great insight  about the philosophy of VT diagnosis.

The message form this article goes something like this . . .

In the diagnosis of  wide qrs tachycardia , If we apply  the so called scientific principles   the chances  for missing   a real VT is extraordinarily high , while  if you blindly apply common sense and logic you are going to be 90% right .

What a powerful  statement this !  even though it appears  absurd ,  it is absolutely true !

A young physician  should realize the importance of this . Scientific  decoding of arrhythmia  may be an academic  pursuit but in a given patient at bedside  diagnosing by experience and common  logic are  far more productive and accurate. Miss diagnosis of VT was not common prior to 1980s .  It has become a recent phenomenon .

Probably too much of electrophysiology haS  made a simple diagnostic pathway a complex one. When we relied only on commonsense the errors were less . I  have  often observed  fellows  making mistakes quite frequently  while  nurses  were too confident  to call a wide qrs tachycardia   as VT .

Final message

Medical decision making is an art , in fact it is  a “fine art ”   We keep saying this for centuries , still medicine as a  science  easily overtakes medicine as an art. Here comes the problem . Some times (or is it many times ! ) too much of inquisitiveness in the   name of  science  make practice of medicine  complicated and the victims are often the patients !

Let us simplify medicine  . . . let us accept an occasional  bad outcome  . . . for not being 100 % scientific  ! After all  , a million mistakes happen every day in the  pure  scientific  pathway .

Reference

http://www.amjmed.com/article/0002-9343(88)90008-3/abstract

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