The diagnostic value of a 12-lead electrocardiogram in patients with cardiac tamponade due to a malignant pericardial effusion
Background. Cardiac tamponade can occur when a large amount of fluid, gas, singly or in combination, accumulating within the pericardium, compresses the heart causing circulatory compromise. Although previous investigators have found the 12-lead ECG to have a poor predictive value in diagnosing cardiac tamponade, very few studies have evaluated it as a follow up tool for ruling in or ruling out tamponade in patients with previously diagnosed malignant pericardial effusions. Methods. 127 patients with malignant pericardial effusions at the MD Anderson Cancer Center were included in this retrospective study. While 83 of these patients had a cardiac tamponade diagnosed by echocardiographic criteria (Gold standard), 44 did not. We computed the sensitivity (Se), specificity (Sp), positive (PPV) and negative predictive values (NPV) for individual and combinations of ECG abnormalities. Individual ECG abnormalities were also entered singly into a univariate logistic regression model to predict tamponade. Results. For patients with effusions of all sizes, electrical alternans had a Se, Sp, PPV and NPV of 22.61%, 97.61%, 95% and 39.25% respectively. These parameters for low voltage complexes were 55.95%, 74.44%, 81.03%, 46.37% respectively. The presence of all three ECG abnormalities had a Se = 8.33%, Sp = 100%, PPV = 100% and NPV = 35.83% while the presence of at least one of the three ECG abnormalities had a Se = 89.28%, Sp = 46.51%, PPV = 76.53%, NPV = 68.96%. For patients with effusions of all sizes electrical alternans had an OR of 12.28 (1.58–95.17, p = 0.016), while the presence of at least one ECG abnormality had an OR of 7.25 (2.9–18.1, p = 0.000) in predicting tamponade. Conclusions. Although individual ECG abnormalities had low sensitivities, specificities, NPVs and PPVs with the exception of electrical alternans, the presence of at least one of the three ECG abnormalities had a high sensitivity in diagnosing cardiac tamponade. This could point to its potential use as a screening test with a correspondingly high NPV to rule out a diagnosis of tamponade in patients with malignant pericardial effusions. This could save expensive echocardiographic assessments in patients with previously diagnosed pericardial effusions.
Argula, Rahul Gupta, "The diagnostic value of a 12-lead electrocardiogram in patients with cardiac tamponade due to a malignant pericardial effusion" (2008). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1454381.