This ECG was obtained from a 13-year-old boy who had previously been in NSR. At that time, he was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, and he had delta waves. He now presents with a supraventricular tachycardia. People with W-P-W have one or more accessory pathways which allow atrial impulses to bypass the AV node and “pre-excite” the ventricles. An accessory pathway, along with the normal pathway through the AV node, can form a functional circuit, allowing conduction to proceed down one pathway and return up the other, in a rapidly repeating circular motion. This causes paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia.
In W-P-W, the most common type of SVT is AV reciprocating tachycardia (AVRT), also called AV reentry tachycardia. Conduction through the accessory pathway can be forward (anterograde) or backward (retrograde). The most common type of reentrant conduction in W-P-W is ORTHODROMIC, which we see here. The impulse conducts forward through the AV node, and backward over the accessory pathway. There is no delta wave, as there is no pre-excitation of the ventricles.
Features of orthodromic AVRT are:
Fast rate (usually approximately 140-250 beats per minute)
Narrow QRS complexes (unless BBB or IVCD present)
P waves retrograde, if seen (negative in II, positive in aVR and V1)
ST depression and T wave inversion common.
W-P-W is often diagnosed in children and teenagers. Treatment depends upon the hemodynamic stability of the patient during episodes of SVT. Catheter ablation can be used to disable the accessory pathway in many cases.
*. The second image has been added to accompany Dr. Ken Grauer's comments below.