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J Am Coll Cardiol. 2017 Aug 29;70(9):1183-1192. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2017.07.723.

Computer-Interpreted Electrocardiograms: Benefits and Limitations.

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Department of Cardiology, Lausanne University Hospital, Lausanne, Switzerland. Electronic address:
Cardiovascular Research Institute, Maastricht, the Netherlands.


Computerized interpretation of the electrocardiogram (CIE) was introduced to improve the correct interpretation of the electrocardiogram (ECG), facilitating health care decision making and reducing costs. Worldwide, millions of ECGs are recorded annually, with the majority automatically analyzed, followed by an immediate interpretation. Limitations in the diagnostic accuracy of CIE were soon recognized and still persist, despite ongoing improvement in ECG algorithms. Unfortunately, inexperienced physicians ordering the ECG may fail to recognize interpretation mistakes and accept the automated diagnosis without criticism. Clinical mismanagement may result, with the risk of exposing patients to useless investigations or potentially dangerous treatment. Consequently, CIE over-reading and confirmation by an experienced ECG reader are essential and are repeatedly recommended in published reports. Implementation of new ECG knowledge is also important. The current status of automated ECG interpretation is reviewed, with suggestions for improvement.


algorithms; software

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