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Photo of Mattias Ohlsson

Mattias Ohlsson


Photo of Mattias Ohlsson

Artificial neural networks for recognition of electrocardiographic lead reversal


  • Bo Hede ́n
  • Mattias Ohlsson
  • Lars Edenbrandt
  • Ralf Rittner
  • Olle Pahlm
  • Carsten Peterson

Summary, in English

Misplacement of electrodes during the recording of an electrocardiogram (ECG) can cause an incorrect interpretation, misdiagnosis, and subsequent lack of proper treatment. The purpose of this study was twofold: (1) to develop artificial neural networks that yield peak sensitivity for the recognition of right/left arm lead reversal at a very high specificity; and (2) to compare the performances of the networks with those of 2 widely used rule-based interpretation programs. The study was based on 11,009 ECGs recorded in patients at an emergency department using computerized electrocardiographs. Each of the ECGs was used to computationally generate an ECG with right/left arm lead reversal. Neural networks were trained to detect ECGs with right/left arm lead reversal. Different networks and rule-based criteria were used depending on the presence or absence of P waves. The networks and the criteria all showed a very high specificity (99.87% to 100%). The neural networks performed better than the rule-based criteria, both when P waves were present (sensitivity 99.1%) or absent (sensitivity 94.5%). The corresponding sensitivities for the best criteria were 93.9% and 39.3%, respectively. An estimated 300 million ECGs are recorded annually in the world. The majority of these recordings are performed using computerized electrocardiographs, which include algorithms for detection of right/left arm lead reversals. In this study, neural networks performed better than conventional algorithms and the differences in sensitivity could result in 100,000 to 400,000 right/left arm lead reversals being detected by networks but not by conventional interpretation programs.


  • Computational Biology and Biological Physics - Undergoing reorganization

Publishing year







American Journal of Cardiology





Document type

Journal article


Excerpta Medica


  • Cardiac and Cardiovascular Systems




  • ISSN: 0002-9149