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Wenckebach's phenomenon

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A sequence of cardiac cycles in the electrocardiogram. It is a form of incomplete atrio-ventricular heart block in which there is progressive lengthening of conduction time in cardiac tissue with P-R interval increasing until there is not a ventricular response. This is followed by a conducted beat with a short P-R interval, and then the cycle repeats itself. This occurs frequently after an inferior myocardial infarction and tends to be self-limiting.

Luigi Luciani worked in by Carl Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig's (1816-1895) laboratory in Leipzig when he was the first to demonstrate cardiac group beating, which he named periodic rhythm. In 1898 Wenckebach studied a patient who had unexplained irregular pulse due to cardiac group beating. This was the first description of the phenomenon i man.


  • L. Luciani:
    Eine periodische Function des isolirten Froschherzens.
    [On the Periodic Function of the Isolated Frog Heart]
    Berichte über die Verhandlungen der königlichen sächsischen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Leipzig; mathematisch-physische Klasse, 1873, 25: 11.
  • K. F. Wenckebach:
    De Analyse van den onregelmatigen Pols. III. Over eenige Vormen van Allorythmie en Bradykardie.
    Nederlandsch Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde, Amsterdam, 1898, 2: 1132. Zur Analyse des unregelmässigen Pulses.
    Zeitschrift für klinische Medizin, 1899, 36: 181-199.
  • C.B. Upshaw Jr, M.E. Silverman:
    The Wenckeback phenomenon: A salute and comment on the centennial of its original description.
    Annals of Internal Medicine, Philadelphia, 1999, 130: 58–63.

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