Atrial Bigeminy?

  1. This was a first for me:
    Last night I recovered a post-op CABG x 2 and mitral valve replacement. Grabbed a ECG strip, glanced at it and went to work. I was busy, so I didn't have an immediate chance to analyze the strip. Anyway, as things slowed down, I had a chance to really look at the strip and I noticed that every other QRS complex was slightly smaller than the preceding one. Also, after the smaller QRS's there was a slight compensatory pause. I looked in other leads (MCL, III) and the result was the same. Also, on the artline and pleth waveforms, every other complex was smaller than the preceding one. I was somewhat puzzled when I called the oncall resident, as was he, so we got a 12-lead. I was thinking electrical alternans associated with tamponade (always assuming the worst, I hurried to double-check my chest tubes). As it turns out, the 12-lead showed atrial bigeminy. I have never encountered such a thing. Anyone have any experience with atrial bigeminy? What causes it exactly? Thanks in advance for any input.
  2. Visit javajunkie profile page

    About javajunkie

    Joined: Apr '03; Posts: 55; Likes: 11


  3. by   CCL"Babe"
    Yes, I have seen atrial bigemany. I saw it most when I worked tele on a post open heart floor. Some times the electrical pathway is disrupted during MVRs, often these patients will go into atrial fib.
  4. by   Havin' A Party!
    Yes, sometimes associated with AF or LAF.
  5. by   zambezi
    I have seen this also...Per our protocol, if our patient is having lots of pac's...burts of afib...we digitilize them...(assuming they have not had dig prior...) to prevent afib...
  6. by   Dinith88
    I've seen it a few times. It's generally no 'big deal' as it's usually seen in pt's with advanced lung disease (lots of atrial arrhythmias in these patients!) who are already being treated for a-fib. Atrial arrythmias are (unfortunately) common post-cabg, so i suppose it's seen in these patients as well. An atrial bigeminy is actually a 'better'/more 'organized' rhythm than A-Fib and would be (i'm guessing) less likely to be as 'thrombogenic', or drop an EF significantly...(as compared to A-fib).
  7. by   NurseBomar
    I just transported an 83y/o lady w/ was a first for me too. They initially called it 2nd deg HB, but it didn't really fit. There was a normal beat (PRi=.24), followed by another with the same PRi, but starting almost on top of the T wave. The couplet was followed by a P wave and dropped QRS. The dropped QRS i suppose is the compensatory pause ...just the atria forgot to pause.
  8. by   cardiacRN2006
    It actually happens to me periodically, usually after an injury. It usually goes away on it's own.
  9. by   MedicalLPN
    Wow, never heard of this, thanks for the post! I'm going to google it to see if I can see a strip of what it looks like
  10. by   SEOBowhntr
    Atrial Bigeminy is a pretty common arrhythmia in post-CABG or valve replacements, and can often times precipitate into Atrial fibrillation. I've also seen it in quite a few patients in PACU, probably due to some of the hypoxia that they may have due to mildly low resp. rates. Best course of action is to prevent it from becoming something worse, such as Atrial Fib, therefore most of the time I see it in a "cardiac" patient, I'll ask for a dose of IV Lopressor if their pressure is fine, or Digoxin on occasion too.

    The great thing about seeing it on a pleth or arterial wave form is that it gives people an idea of what happens to atrial kick and filling pressures when a patient becomes tachycardic.

    Here's a strip of it I found online....
  11. by   hypocaffeinemia
    I see it fairly commonly on those with a Hx of afib.

    Occasionally see junctional bigeminy, too.

    /monitor tech and nursing student.

Must Read Topics