In cardiac arrest, ventricular fibrillation (VF) waveform analysis has identified the amplitude spectrum area (AMSA) as a key predictor of defibrillation success and favorable neurologic survival. New resuscitation protocols are under investigation, where prompt defibrillation is restricted to cases with a high AMSA. Appreciating the variability of in-field pad placement, we aimed to assess the impact of recording direction on AMSA-values, and the inherent defibrillation advice.
Prospective VF-waveform study on 12-lead surface electrocardiograms (ECGs) obtained during defibrillation testing in ICD-recipients (2010–2017). AMSA-values (mVHz) of simultaneous VF-recordings were calculated and compared between all limb leads, with lead II as reference (proxy for in-field pad position). AMSA-differences between leads I and II were quantified using Bland-Altman analysis. Moreover, we investigated differences between these adjacent leads regarding classification into high (≥15.5), intermediate (6.5–15.5) or low (≤6.5) AMSA-values.
In this cohort (n = 243), AMSA-values in lead II (10.2 ± 4.8) differed significantly from the other limb leads (I: 8.0 ± 3.4; III: 12.9 ± 5.6, both p < 0.001). The AMSA-value in lead I was, on average, 2.24 ± 4.3 lower than in lead II. Of the subjects with high AMSA-values in lead II, only 15% were classified as high if based on assessments of lead I. For intermediate and low AMSA-values, concordances were 66% and 72% respectively.
ECG-recording direction markedly affects the result of VF-waveform analysis, with 20–30% lower AMSA-values in lead I than in lead II. Our data suggest that electrode positioning may significantly impact shock guidance by ‘smart defibrillators’, especially affecting the advice for prompt defibrillation.