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Knowledge regarding factors that influence deviation of the QRS axis is important when seeking to differentiate between physiological and pathological changes. We hypothesised that, in contrast to those patients with an atrioventricular septal defect and common atrioventricular junction permitting only atrial shunting, those associated with ventricular shunting would show no relationship between the positions of the papillary muscles and the degree of the leftward deviation of the QRS axis.
We compared the positions of endocardial origin of the papillary muscles, and the frontal plane QRS axis, in patients with atrioventricular septal defects and common atrioventricular junction permitting exclusively atrial as opposed to atrial and ventricular shunting.
We analysed 18 patients with atrial and ventricular shunting and 23 patients with exclusively atrial shunting. The correlation coefficient between the ratio of distances of the papillary muscles from the mid-septum and the amount of leftward deviation in the frontal plane QRS axis was 0.1 (p=0.4) in those with ventricular shunting and 0.26 (p=0.01) in those with exclusively atrial shunting.
In contrast to patients with the so-called primum form of atrioventricular septal defect, in whom the locations of the papillary muscles correlate with the degree of QRS axis, such relationships are lacking in patients with defects permitting both atrial and ventricular shunting. It may be, therefore, that the presence of ventricular shunting and/or their younger age causes pressure overload, which negates the leftward QRS forces caused by the abnormally positioned papillary muscles.
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