EKG Electrode Color Coding
The electrodes of the electrocardiogram are the devices which connect the patient to the electrocardiograph, allowing the electrical signal to be obtained.
In order to differentiate one electrode from another and make it easier to perform the electrocardiogram, each electrode has a diferent color and some letters have been added in order to differentiate them quickly.
There are two different color and letter coding for the electrocardiogram electrodes.
International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) Electrode Color Coding
- Right arm: red, marked with the letter R.
- Left arm: yellow, marked with the letter L.
- Left leg: green, marked with the letter F.
- Right leg: black, marked with the letter N for neutral.
Mnemonics for remembering the colors of the IEC peripheral electrodes:
The simplest mnemonic is to remember that the color of the limb electrodes of this coding system is similar to the colors of the traffic light. Starting from the right arm in a clockwise direction: red, yellow, green and finally the black (neutral) electrode on the right leg
Another resource is the mnemonic “Ride Your Green Bike”. Starting from the red (Ride) electrode on the right arm, then move around patient's torso clockwise, yellow (Your), green (Green) and black (Bike).
The precordial electrodes can all be white or each one can have a different color.
- V1: red, marked with letters C1.
- V2: yellow (C2).
- V3: green (C3).
- V4: brown (C4).
- V5: black (C5).
- V6: violet (C6).
American Heart Association (AHA) Electrode Color Coding
- Right arm: white, marked with letters RA.
- Left arm: black, marked with lettesr LA.
- Left leg: red, marked with the letter LL.
- Right leg: green, marked with the letter RL.
Mnemonics for remembering the colors of the AHA peripheral electrodes:
To remember the location of these electrodes, the following mnemonic is used:
“White on right, smoke (black) over fire (red), snow (white) over grass (green)”.
Another mnemonic is, starting clockwise from right arm: “salt, pepper, ketchup, lettuce” (white, black, red, green).
The precordial electrodes can all be brown, or each one can have a different color.
- V1: red, marked with letters V1.
- V2: yellow (V2).
- V3: green (V3).
- V4: blue (V4).
- V5: orang (V5).
- V6: purple (V6).
What is the difference between the two color coding systems?
In practice, what is the difference between the two color coding systems?, except for the colors and the letters, none.
The colors of the electrodes will depend on the electrocardiograph you are working with. It does not matter which colour coding you use.
It is important that the personnel who carry out the electrocardiogram know the color-coding system of the electrocardiograph electrodes, in order to avoid errors when placing the electrodes.
You should also be aware that there is a different color coding than the one you are familiar.
Finally, we recommend that you read the correct location of the EKG electrodes.
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