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J Am Coll Cardiol. 2006 Sep 5;48(5):1010-7. Epub 2006 Aug 17.

P-wave morphology in focal atrial tachycardia: development of an algorithm to predict the anatomic site of origin.

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  • 1Department of Cardiology, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Melbourne, Australia.



The purpose of this study was to perform a detailed analysis of the P-wave morphology (PWM) in focal atrial tachycardia (AT) and construct and prospectively evaluate an algorithm for identification of the anatomic site of origin.


Although smaller studies have described the PWM from particular anatomic locations, a detailed algorithm characterizing the likely location of a tachycardia associated with a P-wave of unknown origin has been lacking.


The PWMs for 126 consecutive patients undergoing successful radiofrequency ablation of 130 ATs are reported. P waves were included only when the onset was preceded by a discernible isoelectric segment. P waves were classified as positive (+), negative (-), isoelectric, or biphasic. Sensitivity, specificity, and predictive values were calculated. On the basis of these results, an algorithm was constructed and prospectively evaluated in 30 new consecutive ATs.


The distribution of ATs was right atrial (RA) in 82 of 130 (63%) and left atrial (LA) in 48 of 130 (37%). Right atrial sites included crista (n = 28), tricuspid annulus (n = 29), coronary sinus (CS) ostium (n = 14), perinodal (n = 7), right septum (n = 1), and RA appendage (n= 3). Left atrial sites included pulmonary veins (n = 32), mitral annulus (n = 8), CS body (n= 3), left septum (n = 3), and LA appendage (n = 2). In electrocardiographic lead V1, a negative or +/- P-wave demonstrated a specificity of 100% for a RA focus, and a + or -/+ P-wave demonstrated a sensitivity of 100% for a LA focus. A characteristic PWM was associated with high sensitivity and specificity at common atrial sites for tachycardia foci. A P-wave algorithm correctly identified the focus in 93%.


Characteristic PWMs corresponding to known anatomic sites for focal AT are associated with high specificity and sensitivity. A P-wave algorithm correctly identified the site of tachycardia origin in 93%.

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