Spectrum of regular tachycardias with wide QRS complexes in patients with accessory atrioventricular pathways

David G. Benditt, Edward L.C. Pritchett, John J. Gallagher

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Reciprocating tachycardia and atrial flutter or fibrillation are the rhythm disorders most frequently documented in patients with accessory atrioventricular (A-V) pathways. Reciprocating tachycardia typically results in a regular tachycardia (140 to 250/min) with a normal QRS pattern, although on occasion bundle branch block aberration occurs. Atrial flutter or fibrillation may result in an irregular ventricular response, with the QRS configuration being normal or exhibiting bundle branch block or various degrees of ventricular preexcitation, or both. Although much less common than either reciprocating tachycardia or atrial flutter/fibrillation, regular tachycardias with a wide QRS complex suggestive of ventricular preexcitation are observed in patients with accessory pathways. Excluding functional or preexisting bundle branch block, several arrhythmias may cause these electrocardiographic findings which may mimic those of ventricular tachycardia. In the present study a variety of arrhythmias that resulted in tachycardias with a wide QRS complex were examined in 163 patients with accessory pathways who underwent clinical electrophysiologic study for evaluation of recurrent tachyarrhythmias. Twenty-six patients (15 percent) manifested a regular tachycardia with a wide QRS complex suggesting ventricular preexcitation. Atrial flutter with 1:1 anterograde conduction over an accessory pathway (15 of 26 patients, 58 percent) was the most frequent arrhythmia and was usually associated with a heart rate of 240/min or greater (12 of 15 patients). Reciprocating tachycardia with conduction in the anterograde direction over an accessory pathway (antidromic reciprocating tachycardia) occurred in 7 of 26 patients (27 percent), and resulted in a slower ventricular rate than atrial flutter (217 ± 22 versus 262 ± 42, P < 0.01). Other arrhythmias included reciprocating tachycardia with reentry utilizing a fasciculoventricular or nodoventricular connection (two patients, 8 percent), reciprocating tachycardia with reentry in the atrium or A-V node and anterograde accessory pathway conduction (one patient, 4 percent) and ventricular tachycardia (one patient, 4 percent). In this study the clinical electrophysiologic diagnostic features of several arrhythmias which cause tachycardias with a wide QRS compex suggesting ventricular preexcitation are outlined. It is apparent that definitive arrhythmia diagnosis during these tachycardias is often complex and usually requires careful study using intracardiac electrode catheter techniques.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)828-838
Number of pages11
JournalThe American Journal of Cardiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1978

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
From the Division of Cardiology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina. This study was supported in part by grants RR-30 from the General Clinical Research Branch, Division of Health Resources. and HL 15190 from the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland. Thiswork was done in part during the tenure of Dr. Benditt as a Fellow of the Medical Research Council of Canada. Dr. Pritchett is the recipient of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Young Investigator Research Award lR23 HL 21347-01. This work was done during Dr. Gallagher’s tenure as an Established Investigator of the American Heart Association. Manuscript received March 8, 1978; revised manuscript received June 8, 1978, accepted June 7, 1978.


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