August 1, 2012
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While rhythm disturbance may be a common presenting complaint among adult emergency department (ED) patients, the incidence of cardiac dysrhythmia among pediatric patients is relatively low. In one retrospective review, primary cardiac arrhythmias were identified in 13.9 per 100,000 pediatric ED visits.1 The incidence of these dysrhythmias peaked during infancy and then again in adolescence.1 Cardiac dysrhythmias in children may be due to primary conduction abnormalities or may occur in the setting of structural heart disease, metabolic derangements from toxic ingestions, or infections. Supraventricular tachycardias (SVT) represent the most common pediatric dysrhythmias in adolescents (an estimated 63% of all documented tachycardias).1 After a brief review of initial emergency management of dysrhythmia, the authors will emphasize important pediatric ECG parameters and how they differ from adults.