Diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction in angiographically documented occluded infarct vessel : limitations of ST-segment elevation in standard and extended ECG leads

C Schmitt, G Lehmann, S Schmieder, M Karch, F J Neumann, A Schömig
Chest 2001, 120 (5): 1540-6

STUDY OBJECTIVES: The majority of thrombolysis studies require defined ST-segment elevations as an inclusion criterion for the diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction (AMI). However, depending on the occluded infarct vessel and the criteria applied, the ECG diagnosis of AMI can be difficult to establish. Accordingly, this study was performed to evaluate the sensitivity of ST-segment elevation of standard and extended ECG leads in a cohort of patients with angiographically confirmed diagnosis of AMI.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: In 418 patients (mean +/- SD age, 60 +/- 13 years) with AMI (pain onset, 4.8 +/- 3.0 h), coronary angiography with percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty/stenting of the culprit lesion was performed. The diagnosis of AMI was confirmed by emergency coronary angiography and laboratory analyses. ST-segment elevation (in two contiguous leads) of 1 mm in standard lead I through aVF and ST-segment elevations of 2 mm (or 1 mm, corresponding values presented in parentheses) in V(1) through V(6) were considered significant. In a subset of 102 AMI patients, additional right precordial leads V(3)R through V(6)R for evaluation of right ventricular infarction and additional chest leads V(7) through V(9) for evaluation of posterior infarction were recorded. ST-segment elevations of 1 mm in the right precordial leads and 1 mm or 0.5 mm in the posterior leads were considered significant.

RESULTS: Standard leads I through V(6) showed ST-segment elevation in 85% (96%) of patients with left anterior descending artery occlusion, in 46% (61%) of patients with left circumflex coronary artery (CX) occlusion, and in 85% (90%) of patients with right coronary artery occlusion. On consideration of additional ECG tracings in the subgroup of 102 patients (V(3)R through V(6)R and V(7) through V(9)), the respective numbers increased by 2 to 8% depending on different criteria for ST-segment elevation; in patients with CX occlusion, the increase amounted to 6 to 14%. There was a trend toward an extended infarct size (maximum creatine kinase [CK] values) with concomitant ST-segment elevation in additional ECG leads as assessed by maximum CK levels.

CONCLUSIONS: The sensitivity of the ECG diagnosis of AMI is only marginally increased by extended precordial chest leads. There is a trend toward an extended infarct size in those patients with concomitant ST-segment elevation in additional ECG leads.

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