Ventricular Escape Rhythm

Definition

Ventricular Escape Rhythm: A ventricular rhythm with a rate of 20-40 bpm.

  • QRS complexes are broad (≥ 120 ms) and may have a LBBB or RBBB morphology.
  • Also known as Idioventricular escape rhythm

Mechanism

Pacemaker cells are found at various sites throughout the conducting system, with each site capable of independently sustaining the heart rhythm. The rate of spontaneous depolarisation of pacemaker cells decreases down the conducting system:

  • SA node (60-100 bpm)
  • Atria (< 60 bpm)
  • AV node (40-60 bpm)
  • Ventricles (20-40 bpm)

Under normal conditions, subsidiary pacemakers are suppressed by the more rapid impulses from above (i.e. sinus rhythm). Junctional and ventricular escape rhythms arise when the rate of supraventricular impulses arriving at the AV node or ventricle is less than the intrinsic rate of the ectopic pacemaker.

Causes

Conditions leading to the emergence of a junctional or ventricular escape rhythm include:


ECG Examples

Example 1
Sinus arrest ventricular escape rhythm

Sinus arrest with a ventricular escape rhythm

  • Sinus pause / arrest (there is a single P wave visible on the 6-second rhythm strip).
  • Broad complex escape rhythm with a LBBB morphology at a rate of 25 bpm.
  • The LBBB morphology (dominant S wave in V1) suggests a ventricular escape rhythm arising from the right bundle branch.

Example 2
ECG Complete heart block CHB

Complete heart block with a ventricular escape rhythm

  • Sinus rhythm with 3rd degree AV block.
  • Broad complex escape rhythm at around 27 bpm.
  • The RBBB (dominant R wave in V1) + left posterior fascicular block (right axis deviation) morphology suggests a ventricular escape rhythm arising from the left anterior fascicle.

Example 3
ECG Complete heart block CHB 2

Complete heart block with a ventricular escape rhythm

  • Sinus rhythm with 3rd degree AV block.
  • Extremely slow broad complex escape rhythm (around 15 bpm).
  • The RBBB morphology (dominant R wave in V1) indicates a ventricular escape rhythm arising somewhere within the left bundle branch.

Related Topics


LITFL Further Reading


Advanced Reading


ECG LIBRARY 700

ECG LIBRARY

Electrocardiogram

Emergency Physician in Prehospital and Retrieval Medicine in Sydney, Australia. He has a passion for ECG interpretation and medical education | ECG Library |

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