Background: Left Bundle Branch Block (LBBB) on the ECG makes accurate recognition of ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI) rather difficult. The 1996 and 2004 American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association (ACC/AHA) STEMI guidelines recommended immediate reperfusion therapy for patients with potentially ischemic symptoms and new, or presumed new, LBBB. In 2013, this recommendation was removed from the guidelines. Historically, reperfusion decisions in LBBB have been determined by the original Sgarbossa criteria published in 1996, but there are three key limitations to the original study by Sgarbossa et al:
- The original Sgarbossa criteria (i.e. the “weighted” Sgarbossa criteria) depends on a point system that rely on 3 findings, only 2 of which would provide enough points (i.e. 3) to make the diagnosis of AMI. Using the Sgarbossa criteria without the point system (i.e. the “unweighted” Sgarbossa criteria) increases sensitivity but decreases specificity.
- Sgarbossa et al diagnosed AMI by creatine kinase MB (CK-MB) elevations instead of angiographic evidence of acute coronary occlusion (ACO), which limits the sensitivity of the rule because it combines NSTEMI and STEMI patients in the outcome definition
- Finally, Sgarbossa et al used an absolute criterion (5mm) rather than a proportional criterion for excessively discordant ST elevation lowering the sensitivity of the criteria.
The modified Sgarbossa criteria replaces the absolute 5mm discordant ST elevation with a proportion (ST elevation/S-wave amplitude ≤ -0.25). In other words, the modified Sgarbossa criteria only changes the last of the original Sgarbossa criteria with the first two criteria staying intact. Now, if any of these criteria are met, the cardiac catheterization lab should be activated. We have written on REBEL EM before about the modified Sgarbossa criteria and one of our conclusions was this rule looked very promising, but needed an external validation study. Well that study is now here and for full disclosure I am one of the authors on the paper. Read more →