Diagnosis of ST-elevation myocardial infarction in the presence of left bundle branch block with the ST-elevation to S-wave ratio in a modified Sgarbossa rule

Ann Emerg Med. 2012 Dec;60(6):766-76. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2012.07.119. Epub 2012 Aug 31.


Study objective: Sgarbossa's rule, proposed for the diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction in the presence of left bundle branch block, has had suboptimal diagnostic utility. We hypothesize that a revised rule, in which the third Sgarbossa component (excessively discordant ST-segment elevation as defined by ≥5 mm of ST-segment elevation in the setting of a negative QRS) is replaced by one defined proportionally by ST-segment elevation to S-wave depth (ST/S ratio), will have better diagnostic utility for ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) equivalent, using documented coronary occlusion on angiography as reference standard.

Methods: We collected admission ECGs for all patients with an acutely occluded coronary artery and left bundle branch block at 3 institutions. The ECGs of emergency department patients with chest pain or dyspnea and left bundle branch block, but without coronary occlusion, were used as controls. The R or S wave, whichever was most prominent, and ST segments, relative to the PR segment, were measured to the nearest 0.5 mm. The ST/S ratio was calculated for each lead that has both discordant ST deviation of greater than or equal to 1 mm and an R or S wave of opposite polarity; others were set to 0. The cut point for the most negative ST/S ratio with at least 90% specificity was determined. The revised rule is unweighted, requiring just 1 of 3 criteria. Diagnostic utilities of the original and revised Sgarbossa rules were computed and compared. McNemar's test was used to compare sensitivities and specificities.

Results: The study and control groups included 33 and 129 ECGs, respectively. The cut point selected for relative discordant ST-segment elevation was -0.25. Excessive absolute discordant ST-segment elevation of 5 mm was present in at least one lead in 30% of ECGs in patients with confirmed coronary occlusion versus 9% of the control group, whereas excessive relative discordant ST-segment elevation less than -0.25 was present in 79% vs. 9% [corrected].Sensitivity of the revised rule in which ST-segment elevation with an ST/S ratio less than or equal to -0.25 replaces ST-segment elevation greater than or equal to 5 mm was significantly greater than either the weighted (P<.001) or unweighted (P=.008) Sgarbossa rule: 91% (95% confidence interval [CI] 76% to 98%) versus 52% (95% CI 34% to 69%) versus 67% (95% CI 48% to 82%). Specificity of the revised rule was lower than that of the weighted rule (P=.002) and similar to that of the unweighted rule (P=1.0): 90% (95% CI 83% to 95%) versus 98% (95% CI 93% to 100%) versus 90% (95% CI 83% to 95%). Positive and negative likelihood ratios for the revised rule were 9.0 (95% CI 8.0 to 10) and 0.1 (95% CI 0.03 to 0.3). The revised rule was significantly more accurate than both the weighted (16% difference; 95% CI 5% to 27%) and unweighted (12% difference; 95% CI 2% to 22%) Sgarbossa rules.

Conclusion: Replacement of the absolute ST-elevation measurement of greater than or equal to 5 mm in the third component of the Sgarbossa rule with an ST/S ratio less than -0.25 greatly improves diagnostic utility of the rule for STEMI. An unweighted rule using this criterion resulted in excellent prediction for acute coronary occlusion.

MeSH terms

  • Bundle-Branch Block / complications*
  • Bundle-Branch Block / diagnosis
  • Bundle-Branch Block / physiopathology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Coronary Occlusion / complications
  • Coronary Occlusion / diagnosis
  • Coronary Occlusion / physiopathology
  • Decision Support Techniques*
  • Electrocardiography
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Humans
  • Myocardial Infarction / complications
  • Myocardial Infarction / diagnosis*
  • Myocardial Infarction / physiopathology
  • Sensitivity and Specificity