Methadone is associated with QT interval prolongation and torsades de pointes. Expert panel recommendations advocate a pre-methadone electrocardiogram (ECG) and another ECG at 30 days of therapy in patients with risk factors. Some recommend a pre-methadone ECG and routine ECG monitoring in all methadone patients, but this is controversial due to the resources required. Availability of a convenient, less resource-intensive method of ECG monitoring for patients taking methadone is desirable.
Assess the accuracy of a handheld smartphone ECG (iECG) for QT measurement in patients on maintenance methadone therapy in an urban opioid treatment program.
Patients (n=115) in normal sinus rhythm who were on steady-state maintenance methadone therapy underwent a simultaneous 12-lead ECG and a single-lead iECG. The first three QT and RR intervals from lead II of the 12-lead ECG and simulated lead I from the iECG were compared using the Bland-Altman analysis of measurement agreement.
Mean [± standard deviation) age was 34±11 years; 71% were female, 75% were white. Compared to the 12-lead ECG, the iECG was associated with a QTc bias of – 0.14 ms (SD=12 ms, 95% CI = -2.4 to 2.1 ms). The absolute mean difference in QTc between the two methods was 9.5±7.1 ms. For identification of patients with methadone-associated QTc prolongation, the iECG performed moderately well [c-statistic 0.97 (95% CI 0.91-0.99); sensitivity and specificity 75% (95% CI 43-95%) and 99% (95% CI 94-99%), respectively]. The positive and negative likelihood ratios of the iECG for identifying patients with methadone-associated QTc prolongation were 77.25 (95% CI 10.69 to 558.18) and 0.25 (95% CI 0.09 to 0.67), respectively, while the positive and negative predictive values were 90% (95% CI 56-99%) and 97% (95% CI 92-99%), respectively. The accuracy of the iECG for identifying patients with QTc prolongation was 97% (95% CI 91-99%).
A handheld smartphone ECG is accurate for QT interval measurement in patients taking maintenance methadone therapy, and its performance is moderately good for identifying patients with methadone-associated QTc prolongation.

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