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Left anterior fascicular block

Anterior Wall M.I. With Bifascicular Block

Sat, 03/25/2017 - 15:13 -- Dawn

This ECG is taken from an 82-year-old man who called 911 because of chest pain.  He has an unspecified “cardiac” history, but we do not know the specifics. 

WHAT IS THE RHYTHM?  The heart rate is 69 bpm, and there are P waves before every QRS complex. The underlying rhythm is regular, with one premature beat that is wide without a P wave.  The PR interval is slightly prolonged at .25 seconds.  The rhythm is normal sinus rhythm with first-degree AV block and one PVC. 

WHY THE WIDE QRS?   The QRS complex is wide at .14 seconds. The QRS in V 1 has a wide R wave after a small Q wave.  This in consistent with right bundle branch block pattern, with loss of the normal initial small r wave (pathological Q waves).  The diagnosis of RBBB is further corroborated by the wide little S waves in Leads I and V6.  The QRS frontal plane axis is -66 degrees per the machine, and clearly “abnormal left” because the QRS in Lead II is negative, while the QRS in Leads I and aVL are positive.  This is left anterior fascicular block, also called left anterior hemiblock.  The combination of RBBB and LAFB is a common one, as the two branches have the same blood supply.  It is also called bi-fascicular block. 

WHAT ABOUT THE ST SEGMENTS?  The ST segments in leads V2 through V6 are elevated, and their shape is very straight, as opposed to the normal shape of coved upward (smile). Even though the amount of ST elevation at the J points appears subtle, the shape of the segments, the fact that they appear in related leads, and the fact that the patient is an elderly male with chest pain all point to the diagnosis of ANTERIOR WALL ST elevation M.I. (STEMI).  Additional ST changes include a straight shape in Leads I and aVL and ST depression in V1 and aVR.  

PATIENT OUTCOME  The patient was transported to a cardiac center, where he received angioplasty in the cath lab.  The left coronary artery was found to be occluded, and was repaired and stented.  He recovered without complications and was sent home in a few days.

Bifascicular Block and Sinus Bradycardia

Fri, 11/18/2016 - 20:30 -- Dawn

Today’s ECG is from a 75 year old man who has been experiencing syncope. 

Examination of the ECG shows a sinus bradycardia at just under 40 bpm.  There is a first-degree AV block, with a PR interval of about .28 seconds (280 ms).  There is a right bundle branch block.  The ECG criteria for right bundle branch block are:  supraventricular rhythm, wide QRS (120 ms in this case), rSR’ pattern in V1, and  a small, wide S wave in Leads I and V6.  There is actually a “terminal delay”, or extra wave at the end of each QRS complex, reflecting late repolarization of the right ventricle. 

This ECG also shows a left anterior fascicular block, also called left anterior hemiblock.  The left bundle branch usually has two main branches, the anterior-superior and the posterior-inferior.  ECG criteria for left anterior fascicular block are: left axis deviation with a small r wave in Lead III and a small q waves with tall R waves in Leads I and aVL.  There is also a prolonged R wave peak time (> 45 ms) in aVL. There is usually a slightly prolonged QRS, but in this case, there is widening of the QRS due to the RBBB.   Because the right bundle branch is blocked, and one fascicle of the left bundle is blocked, the patient is said to have a “bifascicular block”.  Only one fascicle remains available for conduction from the atria to the ventricles.

We have no information about what caused the conduction block in these two fascicles, but should the third fascicle fail, the patient will be in a complete AV block.  An AV block at the level of the bundle branches will result in an idioventricular escape rhythm – wide QRS complexes with very slow rates – which is a low-output rhythm.  

This patient has also had syncope, which was determined to be related to his bradycardia.  He had an AV sequential pacemaker implanted and did well.

Teaching Series - Tachycardia and Left Anterior Fascicular Block

Sat, 10/15/2016 - 15:48 -- Dawn

This series of three ECGs is from a 60-year-old man who was brought to the Emergency Department after being involved in a motor vehicle accident.  No injuries were found, but the patient was severely intoxicated by alcohol consumption.  He was conscious but agitated. 

ECG NO. 1     15:07:23

The first ECG was taken by fire-rescue personnel at the scene of the accident. His hemodynamic status was stable, and the rate was not addressed in the field. ECG No. 1 shows a supraventricular rhythm at 161 bpm, with a narrow QRS and P waves visible before each QRS. 

A notable feature of this ECG are the left axis deviation, by default diagnosed at left anterior hemiblock (left anterior fascicular block).  The .10 second QRS width is typical of LAHB, as is the rS pattern in Lead III.

Also  noted is the unusual R wave progression in the precordial leads.  The R waves are prominent in V2, and then fail to progress across the precordium, and the S waves persist. This is probably due to the hemiblock.  We do not know this patient’s medical history, except that he self-described as an “alcoholic”.  LAFB can be associated with coronary artery disease. 

ECG NO. 2      15:20:38

Now being evaluated in the Emergency Dept., we see the patient's heart rate is 163 bpm.  Some variability in the rate was noted with patient agitation and activity, so it was determined that the rhythm was probably sinus tachycardia.  There were no other significant changes in the ECG from the first one.  Unfortunately, we no longer have access to lab results, so we do not know his electrolyte or hydration status.  Labs confirmed ETOH intoxication. 

ECG NO. 3   15:43:26

Subtle ST Elevation And Left Anterior Hemiblock

Sun, 01/31/2016 - 23:11 -- Dawn

We have no clinical information about this patient, except that he was complaining of chest pain, and was initially treated by prehospital paramedics.

ST Changes      The paramedics noted a slight J point elevation in the precordial leads, specifically about one mm of elevation in Leads V2, V3, and V4.  In addition, the ST segments are curved downward like a frown in V1 and straight in the remaining precordial leads. Because of the patient’s symptoms, and the ST abnormalities, they notified the hospital that they believed this was a STEMI.  The patient was transported without complications, and the Emergency Department physician subsequently downgraded the initial assessment of STEMI Alert.  We do not have access to follow up. These ST segments are abnormal, but do not necessarily indicate an acute ST-elevation M.I. (STEMI). A flat or “frowning” ST segment DOES suggest coronary artery disease, and the patient’s symptoms are worrisome.  However, before activating the cath lab emergently, it is sometimes preferable to observe the patient, check cardiac enzymes and other lab results, and repeat ECGs. 

 

Are These ST Changes Due to Acute M.I.?   There are several accepted guidelines in use for evaluating ST segments for STEMI.  Some are simplified for ease of use, and some are very detailed, taking into consideration the patient’s age and gender. There are ECG features that INCREASE the chances of ST elevation being due to acute M.I.  These features include:

·        ST elevations are in related leads

Left Anterior Fascicular Block (Hemiblock)

Sun, 09/13/2015 - 22:10 -- Dawn

This ECG provides an example of LEFT ANTERIOR FASCICULAR BLOCK (LAFB).  It is from a 71-year-old woman for whom we have no other history.  She also has first-degree AV block and right bundle branch block.  RBBB and LAFB together are called bifascicular block.  It is not uncommon to see this type of bifascicular block, as the right bundle branch and the  anterior fascicle of the left bundle share a blood supply. 

The conduction system below the AV node consists of the Bundle of His, the left bundle branch, and the right bundle branch.  While there is some variation among individuals, most of us have two main fascicles, or branches, of the left bundle.  The ANTERIOR-SUPERIOR fascicle carries the electrical impulse to the anterior wall of the left ventricle, and the POSTERIOR - INFERIOR fascicle carries the impulse to the inferior area of the left ventricle.

Blocks can occur at any level in the conduction system, including left bundle branch block, right bundle branch block, left anterior fascicular block, left posterior block, and bi-fascicular blocks. LAFB can have many causes, including myocardial infarction, cardiomyopathies, fibrosis of the cartilagenous ring, and aortic valve disease.  Left anterior fascicular block is much more common than left posterior fascicular block. Both are also called hemiblocks.

When LAFB is present, the initial septal depolarization forces are still left to right, providing a small initial q wave in Lead I and a small r wave in Lead III.  After septal depolarization is complete, the activation vector moves inferiorly and to the right as the electrical wavefront moves through the left posterior hemifascicle and right bundle branch. The impulse finally makes its way to the left and superiorly via slow conduction through myocardium normally depolarized by the left anterior hemifascicle, which is blocked.  It is because the terminal left ventricular activation moves upward and toward the left that the  inferior leads have negative deflections.

Left Anterior Fascicular Block

Sun, 09/28/2014 - 23:39 -- Dawn

This ECG provides an example of LEFT ANTERIOR FASCICULAR BLOCK (LAFB).  It is from an elderly woman for whom we have no other history.

The conduction system below the AV node consists of the Bundle of His, the left bundle branch, and the right bundle branch.  While there is some variation among individuals, most of us have two main fascicles, or branches, of the left bundle.  The ANTERIOR-SUPERIOR fascicle carries the electrical impulse to the anterior wall of the left ventricle, and the POSTERIOR - INFERIOR fascicle carries the impulse to the inferior area of the left ventricle.

Blocks can occur at any level in the conduction system, including left bundle branch block, right bundle branch block, left anterior fascicular block, left posterior block, and bi-fascicular blocks. LAFB can have many causes, including myocardial infarction, cardiomyopathies, fibrosis of the cartilagenous ring, and aortic valve disease.  Left anterior fascicular block is much more common than left posterior fascicular block. Both are also called hemiblocks.

When LAFB is present, the initial septal depolarization forces are still left to right, providing a small initial q wave in Lead I and a small r wave in Lead III.  After septal depolarization is complete, the activation vector moves inferiorly and to the right as the electrical wavefront moves through the left posterior hemifascicle and right bundle branch. The impulse finally makes its way to the left and superiorly via slow conduction through myocardium normally depolarized by the left anterior hemifascicle, which is blocked.  It is because the terminal left ventricular activation moves upward and toward the left that the  inferior leads have negative deflections.

The diagnostic criteria for LAFB are:  LEFT AXIS DEVIATION (QRS axis between -45 degrees and -90 degrees); qR pattern in Lead I; rS pattern in Lead III; delayed activation time evident in Lead aVL - the time from onset of the QRS to the peak of the R wave is 45 ms or more. (This example barely makes that criteria); QRS duration normal or slightly wide, but not 120 ms or more (unless there is also RBBB).  LAFB also causes poor R wave progression in the precordial leads, with late transition and S wave present in V6.

Before deciding on a diagnosis of LAFB, you must rule out previous or acute INFERIOR WALL M.I.  The pathological Q waves that can occur with necrosis can cause a left axis deviation in the frontal plane.  The presence of a small r wave in Lead III rules out pathological Q wave in that lead.  If any fascicular block (hemiblock or bundle branch block) occurs during the course of an M.I., the patient should be watched carefully for progression of the block.  Be prepared to pace if necessary in that situation. 

Thanks to our Consulting Expert, Dr. Ken Grauer, for his editing assistance.

Atrial Pacing With Right Bundle Branch Block

Mon, 05/19/2014 - 12:32 -- Dawn

No instructor's collection should be without an atrial paced rhythm OR a right bundle branch block.  Here, you get both.  First, the atrial pacing.  This patient had a sinus node problem, but his AV conduction system was functional (if not perfect).  At this time, he is able to conduct impulses from the atria to the ventricles.  What he cannot do is reliably produce the impulse in his atria.   So, this pacemaker is currently pacing the right atrium, producing a paced "P" wave, which is then conducted to the ventricles.  The fifth beat on the strip shows a "native" beat - one produced by the patient.  No P wave is seen, so it is presumed to be a junctional beat.

As for conduction through the ventricles, there is a right bundle branch block.  The left bundle branch is ensuring that the ventricles receive the depolarization "message", and the ventricles are depolarizing and contracting.  However, the right ventricle gets the message a little late, since is arrives from the left ventricle, and not through a functioning right bundle branch.  This produces a terminal wave on each QRS that represents this delayed depolarization of the right ventricle.  In leads oriented to the left side of the heart, like I and V6, it is seen as a wide little S wave.  In V1, which is oriented to the patient's right, we see an R prime (R'), producing the easily-recognizable rSR' pattern of RBBB.

For your more advanced students, this patient has atypical T waves for RBBB.  Normally, the T waves axes should be OPPOSITE that of the terminal portion of the QRS.  So, Lead V1 correctly shows an inverted T wave, since the R' is a positive deflection.  There are inverted T waves in Leads III, aVF (II is biphasic), as well as in V4, V5, and V6.  We expected upright T waves here. Because we do not have clinical information for this patient, we will call them "non-specific" T wave changes, remembering that inverted T waves can be a sign of ischemia.

ALSO:  As noted in Dave Richley's comment below, there is a left axis deviation, with a negative Leads II, aVF and III, and a positive I and aVL.  This  indicates left anterior fascicular block, which is rather common with RBBB, since the right bundle branch and the left anterior fascicle share a blood supply. So, this person as a "bi-fascicular block". 

 

Sinus Bradycardia With First-Degree AV Block and Left Anterior Fascicular Block

Sun, 03/10/2013 - 01:13 -- Dawn

This is a good ECG for demonstrating sinus brady and first-degree AV block. It shows the sinus node in the process of slowing down. For your more advanced students, there is left axis deviation due to left anterior fascicular block (left anterior hemiblock). The ST segments are flat, suggesting coronary artery disease. The fourth (bottom) channel is a good rhythm strip. Just crop the image. Please refer to Dr. Grauer's interesting post on teaching hemiblocks on our Ask The Expert page.

Right Bundle Branch Block With Left Anterior Fascicular Block

Thu, 02/07/2013 - 23:00 -- Dawn

This is a nice, clear right bundle branch block pattern: wide QRS, supraventricular rhythm (NSR), and rSR' pattern in V1. Wide little s waves in Leads I and V6 are also diagnostic. The left axis deviation indicates a left anterior fascicular block, since there is no other apparent reason for the left axis deviation, such as pathological Q waves or LVH. Left anterior fascicular block is a diagnosis of exclusion, also considering that RBBB and LAFB are often seen together (bifascicular block), since the two fascicles have the same blood supply.


Sinus Tach vs SVT In An Inebriated Patient

Sat, 12/29/2012 - 15:21 -- Dawn

This series of ECGs was obtained from a 60-year-old man who was involved in a one-car accident.  He sustained no injuries, but his blood alcohol level was far above the legal limit for intoxication at over 300 mmol/L.  ECG No. 1 shows the ECG obtained by paramedics in the field, which they incorrectly interpreted to be atrial fibrillation.  No medication was given.  The ER physician obtained ECG No. 2, and considered sinus tachycardia as the diagnosis, but also, because of the fast rate and the fact that the rate had not changed for at least 15 minutes, he considered SVT or atrial flutter with 2:1 conduction.  The ERP administered diltiazem (Cardizem) to the patient, which resulted in ECG No. 3.  The transition to the slower rate was not captured on rhythm strips, but the nurse's notes showed a gradual change over 15 minutes from a rate of 160 to 105/min.  

Usually, on the Instructors' Collection ECGs, we like to give the "answer".  In this case, however, there will undoubtedly be some discussion regarding what went on.  This discussion can be useful if you are teaching intermediate to advanced students.  Questions to consider:  1) Is the fast rhythm an SVT and, if so, which one?  2) Is it sinus tachycardia and, if so, what are the effects of the car accident and the alcohol?  3) Is the left anterior fascicular block relevant? (Criteria are left axis deviation, slightly widened QRS complex at 110 ms, no other obvious reason for the axis deviation). 4) Is the ST elevation in the inferior wall during the tachycardia a sign of acute M.I.?  The patient was lost to followup, so it is not known whether the ST changes were investigated.  Note the flat ST segment and inverted T waves in V1 during the tachycardia that resolve when the rate decreases. 

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