© BioMed Central Ltd 2006
Received: 14 December 2005
Published: 27 January 2006
At one time or another most physicians have encountered a cardiac rhythm on telemetry, rhythm strip, or 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG) that has frankly left them stumped. This has a tendency to happen at inconvenient moments when deciphering that particular rhythm would be of great benefit to the patient. Having an easy reference that is as universally available as computers are in today's intensive care unit has theoretic benefits that are clear to any clinician. The ECG Library is just what the title claims to be: a collection of ECGs ranging from the normal to the rare curiosity. The authors of this site – Dean Jenkins of Wales and Stephen Gerred of New Zealand – created the website in 1996 with ECGs that they had personally collected. The site is simple to access; no special subscription or password is required. The design is straightforward and the site overall is quite user friendly. The contents of the library are fairly extensive. The first ECG listed is a normal ECG with a detailed description of the various features of the ECG and how to analyze it systematically. This is a great tool for the medical student who is just learning how to interpret a basic ECG as well as for the seasoned clinician who wants a quick refresher on the finer nuances of ECG interpretation. The contents are divided into categories, each with multiple examples of ECGs for review. These categories include ischemic heart disease, atrioventricular block, supra-ventricular and ventricular rhythms, pacemakers, and Wolff–Parkinson–White syndrome. At present, there are 50 ECGs on file for viewing. For the true ECG enthusiast or medical historian, the 'not so brief' history of electrocardiography provides entertaining and enlightening reading.
Each ECG is accompanied by comments illustrating the specific diagnostic features of that ECG. This allows the clinician to view the ECG and read the description simultaneously. The miscellaneous section at the end is particular fun, and includes ECGs that are characteristic of acute pulmonary embolus, digitalis effect, and even a piggyback heart transplant, among others.
This site was updated last in 2002. This represents a problem only for those who are interested in contacting the authors directly through the website or trying to access the links displayed on this website. Fortunately, the ECGs themselves, unlike websites or e-mail addresses, do not change with time.
ECGs of patients with ventricular assist devices and an ECG of the transplanted heart would round out the library very nicely. A quiz section would also be fun and useful.
A quick search for 'ECG' on any web browser reveals many related sites. One interesting site is http://www.mdchoice.com/ekg/ekg.asp. Cases are presented with accompanying ECGs, followed by the diagnoses. This site has the potential for being an educational diversion during a quiet call night.