Posts Tagged ‘electro physiology’

AV nodal reentrant tachycadia(AVNRT) is the commonest mechanism of SVT. It is divided into slow-fast, fast-slow, slow-slow , representing the two limbs of he circuit.

Slow -Slow circuit is  the rarest  type of AVNRT.  It should be appreciated  ,  the scientific validity of  slow-slow circuit is  applicable  only in relative terms . A virtually  similar antegrade and retrograde limbs with identical conduction velocity and refractory  properties  , can neither  initiate  nor  sustain an AVNRT.

Caveat in the definition of slow -slow AVNRT.

Even though ,  we call it   a  slow-slow  tachycardia , one of the limbs need to be faster than the other.  So , every slow -Slow AVNRT in reality will have  two types

  • Slow- Slow ( Still , faster than antegrade slow) mimic a slow-fast physiology
  • Slow( Faster than retograde slow )  -Slow closely mimic typical  fast slow .

Implication for electrophysiologists  and   points of contention for the ablationist !

  • In Slow -Slow AVNRT ablation we do not know exactly ,  which of the slow pathway is being ablated , unless we specifically  analyse  the post ablative  data.
  • Very often it is not done.Every one in the lab is happy , for breaking the tachycardia circuit. Only after the procedure is over , we may realise the tachycardia is not really killed as it finds an alternate highway to complete  the short circuiting of heart.
  • We need to  suspect this type of AVNRT   prior to the  procedure .Electrophysiologist  shall  spend little   more time and a wide area ablation done , in the vicinity  of coronary sinus ostium can be attempted. .

It is not a smart practice to advocate  wide area ablation as a routine protocol in all AVNRT

as it directly  increase the rate of complication >

Final message

A   hurriedly  done slow pathway ablation  which  may  temporarily terminate the AVNRT ,only to recur later as  the retrograde  slow pathway may again form  a substrate  .The area of slow conduction  acts as a turnaround gateway and capture  the  retrograde fast  pathway which  could be  available in plenty in the anterior aspects of AV node  .   (Note : The unablated  slow pathway  now  form the antegrade  circuit )

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Pacemaker rhythms  result in classical ECG with  LBBB morphology.It is a universally understood  fact that  RV pacing would  produce LBBB and LV pacing a  RBBB pattern in surface ECG.As with any other rules in medicine , it is not 100%  perfect .(May be 70%)

In the process of oversimplification of rules  we have forgotten a simple fact , that is, interventricular  septum is  shared by both the ventricles . ( functionally and electrically )

In due course , cardiologists and electrophysiologists  have  recognised this fact. A pacemaker lead hitching on the IVS  can behave independently and disobey this  golden rule of pacing.(RV-LBBB,LV-RBBB). Depending upon the orientation of the lead and the pressure it exerts  on the tissue  and degree of penetration of the screwing lead into the septum, the resultant   ECG can  either have a complete RBBB pattern ,  partial RBBB or partial LBBBB or combination of both.

Can RBBB pacing be stable ?

Yes.,  provided the the fixity of the lead and other parameters like impedance and pacing threshold are good.

Before labelling RBBB pacing as safe one should rule out pathological RBBB pacing like septal perforation and

accidental entry into LV through foremen ovale.

Is coronary sinus pacing an acceptable alternative  for  long term permanent pacing ?

The answer is generally ” No ” ,  but it needs rethinking.

A coronary sinus pacing may happen accidentally.The leads get located  either in the main stem coronary sinus or it”s tributaries.the morphology of ECG depends upon the branch it enters.Leads when they reach LV aspect result in RBBB morphology.

Can  we do intentional coronary sinus  pacing for complete heart block ?

There are many accepted  references in literature  that terms   RV pacing as unphysiological and has high risk of precipitating or aggravating cardiac failure. So currently , alternate sites of pacing are explored.( Septum, his bundle , biventricualr etc)

It is an irony , in this era of cardiac resynchronisation therapy where we do coronary  vein pacing  , the same concept is not being tried for regular  permanent pacing in special and difficult situations.( Severe TR, Left sided SVC, AC canal defects etc)

Final message

  1. RBBB morphology following  permanent pacing  need not elicit a panic reaction provided all parameters are stable.
  2. In patients  with difficult RV anatomy* ,  who need permanent pacemaker implantation a modified  coronary sinus pacing can be a solution .But as of now no such speciifc leads are available.EP Industry should take a note on this .

*Epicardial pacing is an option in such situations .But it requires surgery.


Safe right bundle branch block pattern during permanent right ventricular pacing Journal of ElectrocardiologyJanuary 1, 2003   Yang, Yung-Nien ; Yin, Wei-Hsian ; Young, Mason Shing

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                                         Ventricular  tachycardia is considered as a dangerous electrical rhythm abnormality .It can immediately degenrate into ventricular fibrillation and result in SCD in many.Ironically, it is also a fact , a patient with VT can  present silently  without any symptom  .Some VTs are slow and recurrent without much affecting The hemodyanmics.


In chronic recurrent, beningn VT (Some may consider it , ” height of  absurdity ” to call a VT beningn ! but it  is a reality , the term beningn denotes –  very remote chance of converting into VF) ” Is there any other therapeutic option other than convertng into sinus rhythm. “(  Read related topics)


The following paper was presented in the Annual scientific sessions of  Cardiological society of India,  Kochi , seven years ago in  2002



S.Venkatesan,,. Madras Medical College. Chennai


                           Mangement of  hemodynamically  stable  recurrent   ventricular tachycardia  remains a  delicate clinical problem. Reverting to  sinus rhythm  is  considered as  the only aim  of  treating  VT.While rate control is accepted as a therapeutic  option  in atrial fibrillation,  it is not  so,  for  ventricular tachycardia.In this  context  we attempted to analyse  the effect of  Amiodarone on   ventricular  rate  in stable ventricular tachycardia  which fail to convert  to sinus rhythm.


                            The  study cohort consisted of 49 patients with stable VT  who were admitted in the coronary care unit  of  Govt. General Hospital  between 1998 to 2002.The criteria for inclusion   were systolic BP>100mmHg and absence of  hypoperfusion of vital organs  The mean age was 52 years (range 26-68)  with a male female ratio  of 4:1.   Of the study group 36 patients  were either reverted with  IV lignocaine , Amiodarone ( 150-300mg   bolus )  or  DC  cardioversion . 13  patients  who did not respond to   either of these   were  followed up  with  Amiodaroneinfusion(1000mg)  for 24 hours.  The baseline  diagnosis were old MI (6)) DCM (3)  Arrhythmogenic RV displasia(2). Idiopathic VT was diagnosed in  2 patients.All these patients had  VT  during  most part of  the   24 hour  follow up.


                         The pre Amiodarone mean  ventricular rate was  152  (124 –196).  Post amiadaorne (at 24hrs) mean ventricular rate was 128(88-142). The time taken for   50% heart  rate reduction was  6.6h (4-24h).  The average  systolic blood pressure  improved from  100   to  112mmhg . These patients were  discharged  in stable clinical status with oral Amiodarone and  were  referred for  EP study.


                          It is concluded that Amiodarone, apart from it’s cardioverting ability , has a distinct ventricular  rate controlling  effect  which  can be of therapeutic value in  at least certain subset of chronic recurrent VT.

Final message


Some of  the patients  with VT carry a very low risk of VF  and SCD .In these  patients , the only  other major  aim is to prevent tachycardiac cardiomyopathy  that can be done with drugs which  controls  the ventricular rate whenever  VT occurs !

Corrrecting the primary cause like cardiac failire , revascularisation ,detailed EP study  ,tachycardia mapping , followed by RF ablation and ICD implantation is  the state of the art approch in the management of VTs.But this small clinical observation was made to  impress rate control could also be an option  in patients  in whom these procedures are  contraindicated  or not  available . 


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Ventricular fibrillation is invariably fatal if not treated . When can atrial fibrillation be fatal ? 

                                     Atrial fibrillation is relatively a benign arrhythmia especially when it occurs in isolation with  structurally normal heart.This is sometimes referred to lone atrial fibrillation . Even otherwise, atrial fibrillation is rarely fatal except in few situations.But AF commonly destabilises the patient  who have baseline valvular or myocardial disease.(Post MI, dilated cardiomyopathy etc)

There are few situations where AF can be life threatening

  • In patients  with WPW syndrome*where , AF  enters into a electrical short  circuit , downhill to enter the ventricle and make it fire at the same rate as that of atria . ( ie 400-600) and result in ventricular  fibrillation.Note , even here it is the VF that kills  not , AF per se.
  • AF in acute MI  often precipitates LVF , but rarely fatal.
  • In patients with critical aortic stenosis, or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, sudden onset of AF can result in acute cardiac failure.
  • AF is often a terminal event in primary pulmonary hypertension

While atrial fibrillation is  less likely to cause  death , it is  a highly morbid arrhythmia .It is one of important cause of stroke in elderly as well as young !

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Is reciprocal ST  segment changes  occur  only in STEMI ? Can it occur in UA/NSTEMI ?   


                      Even   after   100 years of electro cardiology   the electrophysiological mechanism of ST elevation in STEMI  and ST depression in Unstable  angina is   still in the hypothetical stages. One popular theory   says that the   current of injury   as we see   as  ST  segment elevation  in surface ECG  is  actually   an illusion. It’s   apparently due to   constant negative current    pushing down the   rest of ECG segments. Ironically   the concept   of  reciprocal ST depression in patients who have  ST elevation is well debated  for over 3 decades and  is considered  a  settled issue. It   probably   represents , a  purely electrical phenomenon where the  tail end  of the  lead   picks up the opposite vector. Even   as   conflicts   continue to confront the basic electro physiological   concepts management    strategies   of   acute coronary syndromes is witnessing   great strides.
                                     We   hypothesized   if   ST depression occurs as response to ST elevation it’s logic to expect strong ST depressive forces should  possibly elevate The ST segments in the reciprocal leads .
In fact  we have seen this phenomenon in three distinct  clinical situations. 
1) ST   elevation   in posterior leads: Patients who present   with isolated   ST depression in V1,  V2 , V3  and  ST elevation in posterior chest leads V7, V8 .These patients were initially thought to have isolated posterior MI. But later the cardiac enzymes were found to be normal   indicating no myocardial necrosis   echo evaluation revealed wall motion defects in anterior segments rather than in posterior segments. CAG revealed critical   LAD disease .  This we believe a pure reciprocal ST elevation in the posterior leads to  a  ST depressive forces in anterior leads.
 2) Inferior  ST   elevation   with ST depression   in   V4- V6 : Few  patients who present with  infero    lateral STEMI   later  do not  evolve into  Q  MI but as a NSTEMI .The initial ST elevation  was found  be transient and  disappeared  much earlier,  while the  ST depression  lateral leads persisted.
 3) ST elevation in AVR   in high risk unstable angina :As   already reported in the literature,  we have seen  ST  elevation in AVR  in patients with  high risk unstable angina. This was   more often observed when there is > 3mm ST depression in V4-V6. The AVR  ST elevation  possibly   represents   the  reciprocal  vector.
                                            ST elevation in certain   specific leads in   some of the patients with ACS,   could   be   a pure reciprocal   electrical phenomenon   to   dominant ST depressive forces in Opposite leads .  And hence   ST elevation in the surface ECG during early hours of ACS   should be interpreted more cautiously. The   sanctity   assocociated with ST segment   elevation   could  be  opened   for debate. 
                                     To down load full PPT  click on  the slide


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Aberrant cardiac conduction can occur in any of the specialized cardiac conduction tissues. Rate dependent aberrancy is the most common cause of aberrant conduction.

Generally it is thought only supra ventricular impulses can undergo aberrant conduction. But it is not always true.

Many of the ventricular tachycardia which  have inherently wide QRS complex can further widen their QRS width when it conducts fast down stream.This is especially true  in many of the septal VTs and fascicular VT  which  are falsely diagnosed as myocardial VT. These proximal VTs which other wise would have been a narrow QRS VT are converted into wide QRS VT by functional aberration .

Message :

Don’t always think SVT only has a potential to undergo with aberrancy

The VTs also can  behave similarly.


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