How are ventricular premature complexes (VPCs) diagnosed?

Updated: Nov 26, 2016
  • Author: Jatin Dave, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Jose M Dizon, MD  more...
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Answer

Differentiating VPCs from other arrhythmias can be challenging, because several arrhythmias may mimic VPCs, as discussed below.

The diagnosis of VPCs is primarily electrocardiogaphic. Rarely, when catheters are present in the heart (as for EP studies, or with implanted cardiac devices capable of telemetry), VPCs can be definitively diagnosed by establishing the earliest temporal origin or an extrasystole in the ventricles. Often, however, this is not true and VPCs must be imperfectly diagnosed on the basis of surface electrocardiographic data. In this case, an important consideration is distinguished VPCs from other supraventricular extrasystoles that result in a broader QRS complex, typically from aberration. Thus, data from multiple leads must be evaluated: Depending on the origin of the VPC and the specific surface ECG lead observed, occasionally, a VPC may appear narrower than the sinus complex, but it still is generally broader when all leads are considered together.


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