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Basic Properties and Clinical Applications of the Intracardiac ECG

The electric signals detected by intracardiac electrodes provide information on the occurrence and timing of myocardial depolarization, but are not generally helpful to characterize the nature and origin of the sensed event. A novel recording technique referred to as intracardiac ECG (iECG) has overcome this limitation. The iECG is a multipolar signal, which combines the input from both atrial and ventricular electrodes of a dual-chamber pacing system in order to assess the global electric activity of the heart. The tracing resembles a surface ECG lead, featuring P, QRS and T waves. The time-course of the waveform representing ventricular depolarization (iQRS) does correspond to the time-course of the surface QRS with any ventricular activation modality. Morphological variants of the iQRS waveform are specifically associated with each activity pattern, which can therefore be diagnosed by evaluation of the iECG tracing. In the event of tachycardia, SVTs with narrow QRS can be distinguished from other arrhythmia forms based upon the preservation of the same iQRS waveform recorded in sinus rhythm. In ventricular capture surveillance, real pacing failure can be reliably discriminated from fusion beats by the analysis of the area delimited by the iQRS signal. Assessing the iQRS waveform correspondence with a reference template could be a way to check the effectiveness of biventricular pacing, and to discriminate myocardial capture alone from additional His bundle recruitment in para-Hisian stimulation. The iECG is not intended as an alternative to conventional intracavitary sensing, which remains the only tool suitable to drive the sensing function of a pacing device. Nevertheless, this new electric signal can add the benefits of morphological data processing, which might have important implications on the quality of the pacing therapy.

Credits: Francesco Zanon, MD, FESC, FHRS, Lina Marcantoni, MD, Gianni Pastore, MD, Enrico Baracca, MD, Silvio Aggio, MD, Franco Di Gregorio, Biol.Sc.D, Alberto Barbetta, E.Eng, Mauro Carraro, MD, Claudio Picariello, MD, Luca Conte, MD, Loris Roncon, MD

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