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Ann Emerg Med. 1997 Aug;30(2):127-34.

Biphasic transthoracic defibrillation causes fewer ECG ST-segment changes after shock.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle 98195-6422, USA.



Electrocardiographic abnormalities are common after transthoracic defibrillation. ECG ST-segment changes are especially problematic after defibrillation and may indicate ischemic or shock-induced cardiac dysfunction after resuscitation. Biphasic defibrillation waveforms, compared with monophasic waveforms, diminish shock-induced cardiac dysfunction in laboratory preparations. This effect has not been validated in human subjects. We therefore evaluated in a prospective, blinded fashion the effect of biphasic and monophasic transthoracic defibrillation on the ECG ST segment in 30 consecutive patients during surgery for the implantation of a cardioverter-defibrillator.


In each patient two low-energy truncated biphasic transthoracic defibrillation shocks (115 and 130 J) were compared with a standard clinical 200 J monophasic damped-sine wave shock. The biphasic shocks and the damped-sine wave shock have been demonstrated to have equal defibrillation efficacy of 97%. Fifteen-second ECG signals recorded across transthoracic defibrillation electrodes were digitized before ventricular fibrillation induction and immediately after each defibrillation attempt. The ST segments 80 msec after the J point were analyzed in a blinded fashion by two reviewers. The ST-segment deflection, QRS-interval duration, QT interval, and heart rate after each therapy were compared with baseline values.


ECG ST-segment elevation was significantly greater with the 200-J damped-sine waveform than with either biphasic waveform. The ECG ST-segment levels were -.55 +/- .36 at baseline, -.76 +/- .36 mm after internal shock, -.02-.36 mm after 115-J biphasic shock, .21 +/- .38 mm after 130-J biphasic shock, and 2.09 +/- .37 mm after 200-J damped-sine wave shock (P<.0001). QRS-interval duration, QT interval, and heart rate did not change significantly with any waveform.


Transthoracic defibrillation with biphasic waveforms results in less postshock ECG evidence of myocardial dysfunction (injury or ischemia) than standard monophasic damped sine waveforms without compromise of defibrillation efficacy.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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