Insensitivity of the electrocardiogram in apical myocardial infarction

Benjamin Rothfeld, Jerome L. Fleg, Sheldon H. Gottlieb

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12 Scopus citations


The ability of the standard ECG to identify myocardial infarction (MI) involving primarily the left ventricular (LV) apex is controversial. Therefore, the ECGs of 62 consecutive patients with acute infarction and isolated akinesia or dyskinesia of the LV apex on gated blood pool scintigraphy performed at rest 9 ± 4 days after MI, were reviewed. The following distribution of Q waves was found: none, 26%; inferior leads only, 23%; anterior leads only, 32%; inferior + 1 or more V leads, 13%; lead I and/or aVL + 1 or more V leads, 6%. Only 12 patients (19%) demonstrated one of the "combination" Q-wave patterns thought to indicate apical infarction. Although the 20 patients with a history of MI did not differ in age or ejection fraction from those with a first MI, the combination of inferior and anterior Q waves was present in 6 of them (30% ), vs only 2 of the remaining 42 patients (5%) (p < 0.02). The 24 patients with apical dyskinesia had a lower ejection fraction (36 ± 14 vs 48 ± 12, p < 0.001), a lower prevalence of isolated inferior Q waves (8 vs 32%, p < 0.05) and a greater prevalence of isolated anterior Q waves (46 vs 24%, p = 0.09) than those with akinesia. Thus, in patients with recent MI localized to the LV apex on radionuclide ventriculography, pathologic Q waves are commonly confined to the anterior or inferior leads or absent altogether. The insensitivity of the various proposed criteria for the electrocardiographic diagnosis of apical MI emphasizes the value of imaging techniques in detecting this common clinical entity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)715-717
Number of pages3
JournalThe American journal of cardiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 1 1984

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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