BACKGROUND: During the past century the electrocardiogram (ECG) has established itself as an integral part of the cardiovascular examination. Since the first direct recordings of cardiac potentials by Waller in 1887, to the invention of the string galvanometer by Willem Einthoven in 1901, to use in the clinic by 1910, the electrocardiogram has become the most widely used clinical tool in the diagnosis of virtually every type of heart disease. Currently up to 20 million ECGs are performed annually in the United States alone.
HYPOTHESIS: However, in this era of readily available echocardiography, an important caveat in the interpretation of the electrocardiogram has emerged: variants of intracardiac structures which might mimic disease on the ECG.
METHODS: In this perspective various structural variants of intracardiac structures, specifically variants of papillary muscles and subaortic muscular bands, will be shown, together with their associated electrocardiographic changes, mimicking disease.
CONCLUSION: It is concluded that in this era of readily available echocardiography, the electrocardiogram should be interpreted echocardiographically in instances where intricate variations are seen on the surface electrocardiogram.