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Pacing Clin Electrophysiol. 1997 Oct;20(10 Pt 2):2577-86.

Signal-averaged P wave in patients with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation.

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  • Cardiology Unit, Hadassah University Hospital Mount Scopus, Jerusalem, Israel.


The theoretical and experimental rational of atrial signal-averaged ECG in patients with AF is delay in the intra-atrial and interatrial conduction. Similar to the ventricular signal-averaged ECG, the atrial signal-averaged ECG is an averaging of a high number of consecutive P waves that match the template created earlier P wave triggering is preferred over QRS triggering because of more accurate aligning. However, the small amplitude of the atrial ECG and its gradual increase from the isoelectric line may create difficulties in defining the start point if P wave triggering is used. Studies using P wave triggering and those using QRS triggering demonstrate a prolonged P wave duration in patients with paroxysmal AF. The negative predictive value of this test is relatively high at 60%-80%. The positive predictive value of atrial signal-averaged ECGs in predicting the risk of AF is considerably lower than the negative predictive value. All the data accumulated prospectively on the predictive value of P wave signal-averaging was determined only in patients undergoing coronary bypass surgery or following MI; its value in other patients with paroxysmal AF is still not determined. The clinical role of frequency-domain analysis (alone or added to time-domain analysis) remains undefined. Because of this limited knowledge on the predictive value of P wave signal-averaging, it is still not clinical medicine, and further research is needed before atrial signal-averaged ECG will be part of clinical testing.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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