Ventricular tachycardias of right ventricular origin: Markers of subclinical right ventricular disease

Davendra Mehta, Michael J. Davies, David E. Ward, A. John Camm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


The diagnosis of subclinical myocardial disease in patients with ventricular tachycardias of right ventricular (RV) origin and no overt cardiac abnormalities is important, inasmuch as the presence of RV cardiomyopathy or arrhythmogenic dysplasia can be associated with a poor prognosis. To this end the relative value of symptoms, ECG features of ventricular tachycardia, signal-averaged ECGs, and RV echocardiograms as compared with endomyocardial biopsy findings was prospectively evaluated. Twenty-seven patients with chronic ventricular tachycardias with a left bundle branch block-like morphology, presumed to be of RV origin, were studied. Clinical examination findings, 12-lead ECGs in sinus rhythm, radiographs of the chest, coronary angiograms, and left ventricular cineangiograms were normal in all patients. RV biopsies were abnormal in 11 patients (41%) with findings suggestive of RV dysplasia or cardiomyopathy. A multivariate analysis showed a significant correlation between an abnormal biopsy and sustained ventricular tachycardia (p < 0.05), tachycardia with a superior frontal plane axis (p < 0.001), an abnormal signal-averaged ECG (p < 0.05), and an abnormal RV echocardiogram (p < 0.001). An abnormal RV echocardiogram was both a sensitive (73%) and a specific (94%) indicator of an abnormal RV biopsy. Sustained tachycardia although sensitive (90%) had a low specificity (56%). In comparison, a superior frontal plane axis of ventricular tachycardia and an abnormal signal-averaged ECG were indicative of high specificity and low sensitivity for abnormal myocardial histologic findings. We conclude that in a patient with RV tachycardia and no overt cardiac abnormalities, sustained tachycardia, a superior frontal plane axis of ventricular tachycardia, an abnormal signal-averaged ECG, and an abnormal RV echocardiogram suggest the presence of subclinical RV disease. An abnormal RV echocardiogram is both a specific and a sensitive indicator of myocardial abnormalities and precludes the need for endomyocardial biopsy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)360-366
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Heart Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1994
Externally publishedYes


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