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Confronting Sgarbossa criteria from chennai !

Posted Apr 16 2011 3:44am

Left bundle branch block (LBBB)   has a curious but important relationship with  STEMI . LBBB inflicts a dramatic change in qrs morphology   with  a diagonally  opposite   polarity of ventricular activation . This masks    the initial qrs vector  and  makes it a difficult task  to diagnose acute MI in this setting. The ST segment which is of primary importance  in STEMI is   lifted  up due to altered repolarization .

LBBB can be associated  with  STEMI in the following ways

  • Acute necrotic LBBB  with massive myocardial damage - Impending shock
  • Chronic LBBB with acute STEMI
  • Transient ischemic LBBB during STEMI
  • Rate dependent  LBBB (Usually tachycardic  ,  rarely bradycardic  )
  • STEMI in pacemaker rhythms

While every one of the above can be experienced ,  the most common diagnostic conundrum  occurs ,  when a patient   comes with acute  chest pain and LBBB . There has been many criterias  suggested to diagnose STEMI in the presence  of LBBB.

The criteria  proposed  by Sgarbosa  (A  GUSTO   off shoot )  in 1996  caught our imagination .One prime reason for this is ,  it came from the prestigious NEJM and Duke university combine. Suddenly this became the de- facto standard to diagnose  STEMI 

In the  past 15  years  ,  our experience in one of largest coronary  care units in India , we have   found this criteria   to have  little utility value  in STEMI and LBBB  . Most of the time  a correct diagnosis was made  by   simple clinical guessing .

Next to  clinical assessment, we found cardiac enzymes (Troponin and CPK ) were reliable in diagnosing  STEMI with LBBB.

Surprisingly ,echocardiography  was as unreliable as ECG .( The paradoxical  septal motion invariably confuses the already  confused  cardiology fellow who usually does the emergency echo  !) 

Even as our  CCU documentation was  far from satisfactory  , now this article from Mayo exactly reflect  our observation.

Sorry   Sgarbosa . . . the criteria was  based  on  sound observation and a  good  electrical principle  . . . still LBBB is able to beat   it convincingly ! ( Very low sensitivity !)


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