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Pediatrics. 1998 Mar;101(3 Pt 1):393-7.

Accurate recognition and effective treatment of ventricular fibrillation by automated external defibrillators in adolescents.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa 52242, USA.



To evaluate the accuracy and efficacy of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in patients <16 years old.


AEDs are standard therapy in out-of-hospital resuscitation of adults and have led to higher success rates. Their use in children and adolescents has never been evaluated, despite recommendations from the American Heart Association that they be used in children >8 years of age.


This was a retrospective cohort study of children <16 years old who underwent out-of-hospital cardiac resuscitation and on whom an AED was used during the resuscitation. The setting was rural and urban prehospital emergency medical systems. Patients were identified by review of a database of cardiac arrests maintained by a large surveillance program of these services.


AEDs were used to assess cardiac rhythm in 18 patients with a mean age of 12.1 +/- 3.7 years. The cardiac rhythms were analyzed 67 times and included ventricular fibrillation (25), asystole/pulseless electrical activity (32), sinus bradycardia (6), and sinus tachycardia (4). The AEDs recognized all nonshockable rhythms accurately and advised no shock. Ventricular fibrillation was recognized accurately in 22 (88%) of 25 episodes and advised or administered a shock 22 times. Sensitivity and specificity for accurate rhythm analysis were 88% and 100%, respectively. One patient with a nonshockable rhythm survived, whereas 3 of 9 patients with ventricular fibrillation survived.


These data furnish evidence that AEDs provide accurate rhythm detection and shock delivery to children and young adolescents. AED use is potentially as effective for children as it is for adults.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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