Two-dimensional echocardiographic assessment of electrocardiographic criteria for right atrial enlargement

W. C. Reeves, W. Hallahan, E. J. Schwiter, T. J. Ciotola, E. Buonocore, W. Davidson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Right atrial (RA) size was determined with two-dimensional echocardiography using the apical four-chamber view in 45 adult patients with various echocardiographic criteria for RA enlargement and in 25 normal controls. RA size varied from 11.4-24.0 cm:2 (mean 16.1 cm2) in controls. RA enlargement (≥ 25 cm2) was found in only two of 11 patients with P pulmonale (predictive value [PV] = 18%) and one of five with prominent positive P-wave forces in lead V1 (PV = 20%). However, RA enlargement was found in eight of eight patients with a qR pattern in lead V1 in the absence of clinical indications of coronary artery disease (PV = 100%). RA enlargement was also found in 13 of 28 patients with a total QRS amplitude in lead V1 of 6 mm or less and a threefold or greater ratio of total QRS amplitude in lead V2 relative to that in V1 (V2/V1 ≥ 3) (PV = 48%). A V2/V1 ratio of 4 or more detected 11 of 13 patients with RA enlargement, with six false-positive diagnoses (sensitivity = 85%, specificity = 60%, PV = 65%). The combination of total QRS amplitude in V1 of 4 mm or less, together with a V2/V1 ratio of 5 or more, detected six of 11 with RA enlargement, with one false-positive diagnosis (sensitivity = 46%, specificity = 93%, PV = 86%). We conclude that ECG criteria for RA enlargement that primarily use increased P-wave amplitude have a limited PV. The qR pattern in lead V1 appears to be extremely accurate in detecting RA enlargement. ECG criteria in leads V1 and V2 using decreased amplitude in leads V1 and a V2/V1 ≥ 3 are of some value in detecting RA enlargement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)387-391
Number of pages5
JournalUnknown Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1981

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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