The signal-averaged electrocardiogram is of limited value in patients with bundle branch block and dilated cardiomyopathy in predicting inducible ventricular tachycardia or death

B Brembilla-Perrot, A Terrier de la Chaise, L Jacquemin, D Beurrier, P Houplon
American Journal of Cardiology 1997 January 15, 79 (2): 154-9
An abnormal signal-averaged electrocardiogram (SAECG) has predictive value for arrhythmic events in patients with idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy and a normal conduction. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether the presence of a complete bundle branch block (BBB) affects prognostic information of the SAECG. We prospectively obtained SAECGs in 128 patients with idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy. Forty-three of them had BBB and 85 had a normal QRS duration. According to their clinical history and results of ventricular programmed stimulation, patients were divided into 4 groups: (1) group IA with BBB and ventricular tachycardia (VT) (n = 18); (2) group IB with BBB but without VT (n = 25); (3) group IIA without BBB but with VT (n = 40); (4) group IIB without BBB and without VT (n = 45). Patients were compared with 129 patients without heart disease and without VT. Fifty-seven of them had BBB (group III) and 72 had normal conduction (group IV). The filtered QRS duration was longer in group IB than in group III (175 +/- 21 vs 149 +/- 16 ms, p <0.001), and in group IIB than in group IV (111 +/- 19 vs 96 +/- 12 ms, p <0.05). QRS duration was similar in groups IA and IB (176 +/- 24 vs 175 +/- 21 ms) but longer in group IIA than in group IIB (131 +/- 24 vs 111 +/- 19 ms, p <0.001). The low-amplitude signal duration (LAS) and the root-mean-square voltage (RMS) of the last 40 ms of the filtered QRS did not differ between groups IB and III and IA and IB. LAS and RMS were, respectively, longer (44 +/- 20 vs 31 +/- 13 ms, p <0.01) and lower (21 +/- 20 vs 43 +/- 33 microV, p <0.001) in groups IIA and IIB. In groups IA and IB the combination of 2 of the 3 available criteria: QRS duration >170 ms, RMS <20 microV, LAS >45 ms lead up to the best overall statistical result, with a sensitivity and specificity of 78% and 56%, respectively. In groups IIA and IIB, using conventional late potential criteria, the sensitivity and specificity of the SAECG for VT detection were 65% and 73%, respectively. The risk of sudden death was not predicted by the SAECG, and total cardiac mortality was only dependent on left ventricular ejection fraction. In conclusion, QRS duration was prolonged in all of the patients with a dilated cardiomyopathy compared with those without heart disease. BBB did not change the sensitivity but decreased the specificity of the SAECG to predict any VT risk in dilated cardiomyopathy. The risk of sudden death and total cardiac mortality could not be predicted by the SAECG.

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