Differential diagnosis of tachycardia with narrow QRS complex (shorter than 0.12 second)

Am J Cardiol. 1984 Sep 1;54(6):555-60. doi: 10.1016/0002-9149(84)90247-9.


One hundred eighty-seven patients with clinically documented supraventricular tachycardia with a narrow QRS complex were admitted for electrophysiologic study. The diagnoses after this study were circus movement tachycardia using an accessory pathway in 50 patients, atrioventricular nodal tachycardia in 50 patients, atrial flutter in 50 patients, atrial tachycardia in 27 patients and an incessant tachycardia retrogradely using a slowly conducting accessory pathway in 10 patients. On retrospective analysis, 5 criteria on the 12-lead electrocardiogram during tachycardia were analyzed for their value in making the diagnosis of site of origin. These criteria were P-wave location, axis of the P wave, atrial rate, alternation of the QRS complex and atrioventricular relation. Fifty-seven patients with a narrow QRS tachycardia were prospectively studied using the 5 criteria. A correct diagnosis was made in 48 of the 57 patients (84%). Thus, in most patients with a narrow QRS tachycardia, information from the 12-lead electrocardiogram is adequate for diagnosis.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Atrial Flutter / diagnosis
  • Atrial Flutter / physiopathology
  • Atrioventricular Node / physiopathology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Electrocardiography*
  • Female
  • Heart Atria / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tachycardia / diagnosis*
  • Tachycardia / physiopathology