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Posts Tagged ‘deta wave’


 Delta waves  are initial 20 ms  (or is it up to 40ms ?)  segment of  qrs complex that is  inscribed due to pre-excited depolarisation of the ventricle due to an accessory pathway .

It is more of a  fusion complex with  native normal qrs complex. The leads in which appear , the polarity and magnitude of these delta waves are determined by

  • Site of APs
  • Rapidity of  conduction through this AP
  • The quantum of native AV conduction
  • Influence of Autonomic tone  and the  refractory period of these accessory pathways .
  • Heart rate , distal conduction velocity , also can influence .

Can delta occur without AP ?
Like any other variation  isolated delta waves are reported in routine ECG finding.   It can be  be present in 0.15% to 0.25% of the general population. A higher  prevalence of 0.55% has been reported in first-degree relatives of   patients with accessory pathways.

How do you account for delta in general population ? We know concealed pathways can not record delta  . . . then it is possible some from of accelerated AV conduction  with twin pathway should be quiet common . ( It is very much possible  dual AV nodal pathway with grossly different conduction properties and distal insertion sites  inscribe a delta wave .)

  The crux of the discussion  of WPW syndrome revolves around  identifying delta wave and its direction .  If  the delta wave is well inscribed this job is easy  but at times  it  can be really difficult .

Many moods of delta wave

  • Positive delta  wave inscribes  above baseline. (See the above ECG  showing different delta in same patient )
  • Negative below baseline  and  iso-lectric on the baseline .
  • Please note , delta wave polarity and QRS polarity need not be in the same direction . If  they are in  the opposite  direction many time it appears as  small a pathological “q”  or pathological  “r”
  • It is likely  a delta wave can also drag  and  change the direction of qrs depolarisation  if  the  quantum pre-excitation  is large and with a fast conduction property.
  • It is also possible  the combined contribution of  negative delta with negative qrs together make a  deep  q waves . (Typical example is the LBBB type ECG in type B WPW in Ebstein anomaly )
  • Rarely the entire QRS can be  due to pre-excited  tract and native AV conduction contribute less.(This exactly happen in anti-dromic tachycardia ) but  this phenomenon is extremely rare to occur without tachycardia.

Final message

WPW  syndrome is such a dynamic  entity ,  one can realize how futile it will be to formulate fixed rules for ECG localization based on this wave .In fact,  we suffer from a  fundamental  electrical ignorance .How often delta wave polarity is discordant with qrs polarity and what is the  mechanism ? Standard text books do not discuss this issue . Many of the EPs skirt this question ! For this , we need  to critically decode the mechanisms of delta wave generation . Hope our youngsters take up the job !

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