Posts Tagged ‘left bundle branch block’

Why the qrs complex becomes wide and tall in LBBB ?

The qrs  complex is  wide , due to delayed conduction over non specialized fibres .The qrs  becomes are  tall due to temporal dissociation of RV  and  LV forces ,  which  leaves  the LV forces  unopposed , thus  a tall qrs  is inscribed  , without the neutralizing effect of RV forces.

Is muscle to muscle  conduction a hall mark of LBBB ?

No , it is not . Even though the left bundle is blocked , much of the conduction tend to occur in

specialized  conduction  system  . It depends upon the level of block of LBBB.

What is the mechanism and clinical significance of left axis deviation in isolated LBBB?

The mean qrs axis is surprisingly  not  altered greatly ,  in LBBB . If there is a significant left ward shift  it may imply associated organic LV pathology or involve ment of predominately  left anterior fascicle

What is  the impact of IVS contraction and timing in LBBB ?

In isolated LBBB, it is expected an abnormal septal motion due to altered sequence of septal activation. This results in an abnormal appearance of  septal motion in Mode (Septal beak immediately following qrs complex) .In fact , this sharp downward movement indicate good LV  function  .Absence  of which  is a  good clue  for a pathological LBBB due to structural heart disease

Why does the abnormal  septal motion in LBBB  ,  do not  desynchronize  the normal LV ?

CRT is the much fancied  treatment in patients with LBBB and cardiac failure. In normal ventricles LBBB do not destabilize LV function in spite of septal /free wall desynchronisation  .This is still a mystery how IVS is cope up with the totally unexpected  insult of asking to work in head over heal situation !In spite of  this the ventricle gets used to the altered conduction pattern and the contractile pattern.(Nature’s  at it’s best !)

What are the mechanical disadvantage of LBBB

  • Septal contraction is  ill-timed
  • Mitral  regurgitation

Most isolated chronic LBBBs  do not  confer  any hemodynamic  disadvantage  to LV  – why ?

LBBBs are dangerous looking ECG , but in most patients it is benign , in the absence  0f structural heart disease like valvular , myocardial or ischemic  disease.

Can there be a small r wave in V1 and V2 in LBBB ?

Yes . Though we expect the  reversal of septal depolarization  extinguish  the initial r in v1 to v3 .It is  noted in many. Hence presence of small r in v1 to   v3 does not rule out LBBB. 

  1. The commonest explanation given is un-masking of RV free wall forces which is   normally  masked by early LV forces .
  2. Another possibility is the   orientation of septum  in pathological states.
  3. Third possibility is  “r” may  actually represent  the  septal q waves as in LVH or old AWMI  .(Counterpart of small  q in lateral leads )

How do we explain concordant  pattern  of QRS  v1 to v6  in LBBB ?

We expect the qrs to  transit from QS  complex  to RS ,  at-least by lead  v5/v6 .Some times even V6  shows a RS complex.This is usually due to faulty lead  position or a grossly enlarged  LV,  ie  if we  record V 7 or V8 we will be able to pick up the qs complex.

What will be the morphology of a VPD that is arising  from LV in the presence of  LBBB ?

A premature beat arising  from a  ventricle which is having  a bundle block  is  sort of  electrical blessing !The VPD often bye  passes the block and makes  the conduction near normal  and a normal  qrs may be  recorded. So , when a patient with LBBB suddenly develops a normal qrs beat or  normal qrs tachycardia  one  should consider a VT arising from the  Left ventricle .

And a studious electro physiology fellow  should  be able to answer the following !

What will be the morphology of  VPD if it arises from RV and septum in the presence of  LBBB ?

Kindwall has tried answer  this question

What is the effect of  LBBB on S1 and  S 2 ?

The classical  description in LBBB   is

  • Paradoxical split of S2
  • Wide split of S1

You are supposed to hear  4 components in complete LBBB  !  In reality this does not happen . At best you can hear the reversed  split of  S2 with difficulty .

One  more reason  for the  non manifestation of these splits is  confounding factors like LV dysfunction , MR , PR interval etc .(Each one tend to pull or push  S1 and S 2 in different directions )

Do  patients with LBBB  , are at increased risk for developing  complete heart block   when

beta blockers , calcium blockers etc  are administered ?

Common sense would say yes. Scientific  sense has  no answer .

We know, ventricles are innervated by two bundles  .When only one bundle  is  functional, it means the ventricles  are experiencing  50 % power shutdown .   In CAD  , single vessel blood supply due to a CTO  is considered  dangerous but in electrical  flow it is not so !  In spite of the fact  that  ventricle has numerous  cell cell electromotive conduction   it is  always better to exercise caution  when administering  beta blockers, calcium blockers and digoxin in patients with LBBB . If it is a must periodic  monitoring is advised .(HV interval in isolated LBBB is slightly prolonged ) Never administer beat blocker in a patient with recent onset LBBB and ACS

Also read the related article  in this blog  Incomplete LBBB

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LBBB is probably the most important  conduction defect of the heart .When we say LBBB , we visualize a  strikingly  wide bizarre qrs complex .

Left bundle even though is considered  a discrete structure , the fascicles  make it a diffusely spread structure. Many varieties of LBBB with various degrees of involvement occur.

Talking about the basics of  LBBB  electrophysiology  is out of place for the current generation cardiologists,  who  have little spare time as  they sweat it out inside the cathlabs.

In early 1960s and 70s great articles came from pioneers regarding these defects. If we want get a good insight  read  this  articles from  Sodi palleres .Who  says LBBB is a dynamic process, where it can occur from mild functional  delay to a total block .

The conduction  properties of left bundle is very much influenced by heart rate.

Law of statistics would  suggest  for every complete LBBB  at least three to 4 times incidence of incomplete  LBBB

Then . . .

Why we are not diagnosing ILBBB often ?

  • We miss it
  • Mistake it with LVH
  • We know it  is there , but we do not  want  to diagnose it .

How to diagnose ILBBB?

See  Sodi palleres criteria*

What is the relationship between qrs width and completeness of LBBB ?

Surprisingly and contrary to the belief , the width of the qrs has no linear correlation between severity of LBBB. In fact incomplete  LBBB can occur with even 150ms qrs !

Then ,  what  exactly determine the completeness of LBBB ?

What  matters is , whether the down coming impulse gets blocked  and split in the  left side of the IVS or not ? This causes the  the septal vector to  change  it’s direction ( ie  right to left instead of the normal left to right) It  removes the initial small r wave in v1  and q in v6  in complete LBBB. In  incomplete LBBB these  r and q are  often retained .

What is the differential diagnosis of ILBBB ?

Type B WPW may mimic LBBB and vice versa.

LV hypertrophy .

Differences : See table in  the Barold’s article  linked above .

Unanswered questions

  1. How common is ILBBB in STEMI ?
  2. How often ILBBB progress to LBBB ?
  3. ILBBB in dilated cardiomyopathy : Is desynchrony an issue ? (Normal QRS CHF !)
  4. Is functional  rate dependent  LBBB in cornary care units  same as transient  ischemic LBBB ?
  5. Intermittent LBBB and Incomplete LBBB  aren’t they  synonymous ?

Final message

ILBBB is not that uncommon as one would  tend to perceive.


My humble tributes to  Barold, Sodi -palleres , and Leo  Schamroth . Probably  one of the best  article on ILBBB is linked below. Reviewed    in 1963 !  Not much data has been added  in the next 47 years as on 2010

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