Electrocardiographic differentiation of occlusion of the left circumflex versus the right coronary artery as a cause of inferior acute myocardial infarction

Am J Cardiol. 1987 Sep 1;60(7):456-9. doi: 10.1016/0002-9149(87)90285-2.


To determine whether the admission electrocardiogram can identify left circumflex or right coronary artery occlusion as the cause of an inferior acute myocardial infarction (AMI), findings from electrocardiography and coronary angiography performed within 12 hours of each other were retrospectively assessed in 41 consecutive patients with inferior AMI. All patients had ST-segment elevation in 1 or more inferior leads (II, III or aVF). Of the 12 patients with circumflex coronary artery occlusion, 10 (83%) had ST-segment elevation in 1 or more lateral leads (aVL, V5 or V6) without ST-segment depression in lead I. Similar electrocardiographic findings were noted in only 1 of 29 patients (4%) with right coronary occlusion (p less than 0.001). ST-segment depression in precordial leads V1-V3 was equally prevalent in both groups. Thus, the presence of both ST-segment elevation in 2 or more inferior leads and ST-segment elevation in 1 or more lateral leads with an isoelectric or elevated ST segment in lead I identified circumflex coronary occlusion with a sensitivity of 83%, specificity of 96%, positive predictive accuracy of 91% and negative predictive accuracy of 93%. When these criteria were prospectively applied to an additional cohort of 19 consecutive patients with inferior AMI (5 with left circumflex and 14 with right coronary artery occlusion), presence of left circumflex coronary artery occlusion was predicted with a sensitivity of 80%, specificity of 93%, positive predictive accuracy of 100% and negative predictive accuracy of 93%. Thus, the admission 12-lead electrocardiogram can assist in differentiating left circumflex from right coronary artery occlusion in patients with inferior AMI.

MeSH terms

  • Arterial Occlusive Diseases / complications
  • Arterial Occlusive Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Coronary Angiography
  • Coronary Disease / complications
  • Coronary Disease / diagnosis*
  • Electrocardiography*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / diagnosis
  • Myocardial Infarction / etiology*
  • Retrospective Studies