Proposed Bedside Maneuver to Facilitate Accurate Anatomic Orientation for Correct Positioning of ECG Precordial Leads V1 and V2: A Pilot Study

ArticleinJournal of Emergency Medicine 43(4):584-92 · April 2012with7 Reads
Impact Factor: 0.97 · DOI: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2012.01.022 · Source: PubMed


    Misplacement of right precordial electrocardiogram (ECG) electrodes superiorly is a prevalent procedural error that may lead to false findings of T-wave inversion or QS complexes in V2-possibly triggering wasteful utilization of health care resources. Standard technique for proper placement of V1-V2 entails initial palpation for the sternal angle, pointing to the second intercostal space (ICS), followed by lead fixation at the fourth ICS.
    Because adherence to this approach may be limited by lack of a visual landmark for the second ICS, we assessed an alternative technique.
    The evaluated technique involved placement of the patient's hand up against the base of his/her neck (H→N maneuver) to help demarcate visually a specific point "X" on the chest.
    Of 112 patients studied, "X" landed on the first rib in 2.7%, first ICS in 7.1%, second rib in 56.3%, second ICS in 33.0%, and third rib in 0.9%. Thus, in 89.3% (95% confidence interval 83.6-95.0%) of cases (93.3% of men, 84.6% of women; p=0.13), the second ICS could be identified by H→N via the following simple rule: Utilize "X" if it overlies an ICS; or the immediately subjacent ICS if "X" overlies a rib.
    The H→N maneuver provides a primarily visual approach to identifying the second ICS and, thereby, the fourth ICS for affixing V1-V2. If the present initial experience is confirmed, H→N might merit consideration as an educational tool to promote anatomically correct placement of these precordial leads, a prerequisite to diminishing the incidence of ECG procedure-related "septal ischemia/infarction."