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Dawn's picture

Marked Bradycardia With Bifascicular Block

The Patient:    This ECG was taken from an elderly woman. Unfortunately, we do not know any details about the case.  That acknowledged, there are many interesting aspects to this ECG.

The ECG:  The first thing we notice is the severe bradycardia – almost certain to be symptomatic.  The rate is 32 bpm and the rhythm is regular.  There are no P waves.  This is a junctional rhythm, slightly slower than expected from junctional escape.

The QRS shows the presence of right bundle branch block.  Each QRS on the ECG starts as a narrow complex, but then adds an “extra” wave onto the end – the delay caused by the right ventricle depolarizing late.  The terminal delay is very noticeable in V1 as an R’ wave, and in Leads I and V6 as a small, wide s wave.  There is right axis deviation, so the diagnosis of bifascicular block (RBBB and left posterior fascicular block) can be made.

V2 through V6 show fragmentation of the QRS complexes and a loss of voltage and R wave progression.  This points to anterior wall M.I. We can’t know the age of the M.I. without clinical correlation, but the ST segments in those leads are very flat, with uniformly symmetrical inverted T waves all the way to V6.  All of these signs indicate recent injury.  An anterior M.I. can cause the bifascicular block we are seeing, since the bundle branches begin in the septum.

Dawn's picture

Acute Anterior-lateral M.I. With Right Bundle Branch Block and Left Posterior Fascicular Block

This ECG was obtained from a patient who suffered an occlusion of the left main coronary artery.  ST elevation is seen in Leads V1 through V6, as well as I and aVL.  This is an indicator that the circumflex artery is included in this M.I., and the occlusion is above the bifurcation of the LM and the circ.  The patient also has a right bundle branch block and a left posterior fascicular block.  This bi-fascicular block can be a dangerous complication of acute M.I., as two of the three main bundle branches are no longer functional.

The ECG shows typical ST depression, probably reciprocal to the elevation, in the inferior leads.

The right bundle branch block is diagnosed by the following criteria:  1) Wide QRS;  2) Supraventricular rhythm; and 3) rSR' pattern in V1 with Rs with a wide little s wave in Leads I and V6.

The left posterior fascicular block is diagnosed by right axis deviation and by ruling out other causes of right axis deviation.  In RAD, Lead III will have a taller positive ( R ) wave than Lead II, and a negative Lead I.

This type of occlusion is often called the "Widow Maker", and requires very rapid intervention to restore blood flow and prevent complicatons.  If there is good news, it is that there are no pathological Q waves, which would indicate necrosis, and this patient was taken quickly to a full-service cardiac center with interventional cath labs and open heart surgery available.

Dawn's picture

Right Bundle Branch Block With Left Posterior Fascicular Block

This is a good clear example of right bundle branch block with left posterior fascicular block.  The RBBB is diagnosed by the following criteria:  wide QRS (.12 sec), supraventricular rhythm (NSR), an rsR' pattern in V1, and wide little s waves in I and V6.  The LPFB is inferred by the right axis deviation (Lead III QRS is a bit taller than Lead II and Leads I and aVL are negative), and the fact that there is no other obvious cause for right axis shift noted in this patient.  This constitutes a BIFASCICULAR BLOCK.  The ventricles are being depolarized by way of the anterior fascicle.  In addition, there are slight ST elevations in many leads, with an upward coving in the anterior-septal leads (V1, V2, V3).  Depending upon the patient's history and presentation, this could represent a recent M.I. or pending issues. The borderline first-degree AV block may be of concern in this patient, since first-degree AVB is associated with progression of bifascicular block to complete heart block.  Reference:  Ann Card Anaest, 2010 Jan-Apr;13(1):7-15. doi: 10.4103/0971-9784.58828


Dawn's picture

Anterior Wall M.I. With Bifascicular Block

This is a good example of acute anterior wall M.I., with ST elevation in V1 through V6, as well as in Leads I and aVL.  The extensive distribution of ST segment elevations across the anterior and high lateral walls indicates a proximal LAD artery occlusion.  In addition, this ECG shows right bundle branch block, with a QRS width of 144 ms (.14 sec.) and an rsR' pattern in V1. There is also a wide s wave in Lead I which is partly obscurred in V6 by the ST elevation.  The right axis deviation (98 degrees) suggests a left posterior fascicular block which, when coupled with the RBBB, is a bi-fascicular block.  P waves are difficult to see.  Do you think they are found at the end of the QRS complexes, representing a long first-degree AVB?  Look at leads V3 through V6 for clues.

Please feel free to add your comments below.  The more "gurus" the better.

A good ECG to teach your students that a patient facing a life-threatening emergency may have a "normal" rate and regular rhythm.  There is something in this ECG for beginners through advanced students.

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