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AV nodal reentrant tachycardia
AV nodal reentrant tachycardia (AVNRT) is a type of tachycardia (fast rhythm) of the heart. It is a supraventricular tachycardia, meaning that it originates from a location within the heart above the bundle of HIS. AV nodal reentrant tachycardia is the most common regular supraventricular tachycardia. It is more common in women than men (approximately 75% of cases occurring in females). This tachycardia is characterized by the sudden onset and sudden offset of rapid palpitations. AVNRT may be associated with syncope, especially at the onset of the tachycardia. It is rarely life threatening.
AVNRT occurs when a reentry circuit forms within or just next to the atrioventricular node. The circuit usually involves two anatomical pathways: the fast pathway and the slow pathway, which are both in the right atrium. The slow pathway (which is usually targeted for ablation) is located inferiorly and slightly posterior to the AV node, often following the anterior margin of the coronary sinus. The fast pathway is usually located just superior and posterior to the AV node. These pathways are formed from tissue that behaves very much like the AV node, and some authors regard them as part of the AV node.
Additional recommended knowledge
There are several types of AVNRT. The "common form" or "usual" AVNRT utilizes the slow AV nodal pathway as the anterograde limb of the circuit and the fast AV nodal pathway as the retrograde limb. The reentry circuit can be reversed such that the fast AV nodal pathway is the anterograde limb and the slow AV nodal pathway is the retrograde limb. This, not surprisingly is referred to as the "uncommon form" of AVNRT. However, there is also a third type of AVNRT that utilizes the slow AV nodal pathway as the anterograde limb and left atrial fibers that approach the AV node from the left side of the inter-atrial septum as the retrograde limb. This is known as atypical, or Slow-Slow AVNRT.
In common AVNRT, the anterograde conduction is via the slow pathway and the retrograde conduction is via the fast pathway ("slow-fast" AVNRT).
Because the retrograde conduction is via the fast pathway, stimulation of the atria (which produces the inverted P wave) will occur at the same time as stimulation of the ventricles (which causes the QRS complex). As a result, the inverted P waves may not be seen on the surface ECG since they are buried with the QRS complexes. Often the retrograde p-wave is visible, but also in continuity with the QRS complex, appearing as a "pseudo R prime" wave in lead V1 or a "pseudo S" wave in the inferior leads.
In uncommon AVNRT, the anterograde conduction is via the fast pathway and the retrograde conduction is via the slow pathway ("fast-slow" AVNRT). Multiple slow pathways can exist so that both anterograde and retrograde conduction are over slow pathways. ("slow-slow" AVNRT).
Because the retrograde conduction is via the slow pathway, stimulation of the atria will be delayed by the slow conduction tissue and will typically produce an inverted P wave that falls after the QRS complex on the surface ECG.
Fast and slow pathways vs. accessory pathways
The fast and slow pathways should not be confused with the accessory pathways that give rise to Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome (WPW) syndrome or atrioventricular re-entrant tachycardia (AVRT).
In AVNRT, the fast and slow pathways are located within the right atrium in close proximity to or within the AV node and exhibit electrophysiologic properties similar to AV nodal tissue.
Accessory pathways that give rise to WPW syndrome and AVRT are located in the atrioventricular valvular rings, they provide a direct connection between the atria and ventricles, and have electrophysiologic properties similar to ventricular myocardium.
An episode of supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) due to AVNRT can be terminated by any action that transiently blocks the AV node. This is because the AV node is an essential portion of the reentrant circuit in AVNRT.
Medical therapy can be initiated with AV nodal slowing drugs such as adenosine, beta blockers or calcium channel blockers. Increasing vagal tone, through measures such as carotid sinus massage, or the valsalva maneuver, can sometimes terminate the tachycardia.
After being diagnosed with AVNRT, patients can also undergo an electrophysiology (EP) study to confirm the diagnosis. Catheter ablation of the slow pathway, if successfully carried out, cures the patient of AVNRT.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "AV_nodal_reentrant_tachycardia". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|