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J Cardiovasc Electrophysiol. 1994 Sep;5(9):725-30.

A prospective randomized comparison of defibrillation efficacy of truncated pulses and damped sine wave pulses in humans.

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Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle.



Damped sine wave pulses have been used for nearly 50 years in transthoracic defibrillation systems. The purpose of this study was to determine whether damped sine wave pulses have a role in implantable defibrillators.


In 21 survivors of cardiac arrest, we prospectively compared defibrillation efficacy of a standard truncated capacitor (RC) monophasic pulse with a damped sine wave inductor-capacitor (LRC) pulse using a right ventricular-left ventricular epicardial patch-patch electrode system. The RC pulse was a standard 65% tilt monophasic waveform generated from a 120 mu F capacitor. The LRC pulse was designed to simulate the waveform currently used in transthoracic defibrillators and was generated by passing the charge stored on a 40 mu F capacitor through a 37-mH inductor. Capacitor voltage, peak delivered voltage, peak delivered current, discharge pathway resistance, delivered energy, and stored energy were compared for the two waveforms at the defibrillation threshold. There was no difference in defibrillation efficacy for the two waveforms. Peak delivered voltage was similar at the defibrillation threshold: 313 +/- 101 V for the RC pulse and 342 +/- 119 V for the LRC pulse (P = 0.16). Similarly, no differences were found in defibrillation threshold peak delivered current: 8.6 +/- 2.5 (RC) versus 9.3 +/- 2.7 (LRC) amperes (A) (P = 0.20); discharge pathway resistance: 37 +/- 11 (RC) versus 38 +/- 13 (LRC) omega (P = 0.71); delivered energy: 7.0 +/- 4.5 (RC) versus 7.0 +/- 4.0 (LRC) joules (J) (P = 0.88); and stored energy: 8.7 +/- 5.7 (RC) versus 9.8 +/- 5.4 (LRC) J (P = 0.35). Although both waveforms performed the same, it was necessary to use substantially higher stored voltages with the damped sine wave delivery system than with the truncated waveform delivery system: 356 +/- 110 V for the RC pulse and 675 +/- 192 V for the LRC pulse (P < 0.0001).


This study demonstrates that RC monophasic pulses provide equally effective epicardial defibrillation as LRC pulses with respect to delivered voltage and current and stored and delivered energy. However, in order for LRC pulses to provide comparable delivered voltage, current, and energy to that of RC pulses, nearly twice the voltage must be stored on the capacitor to accomplish the same task. These findings suggest that despite the nearly 50-year experience with damped sine wave pulses with transthoracic defibrillators, there is no need to begin using damped sine wave pulses for implantable defibrillators. Moreover, these data raise a question regarding the need for inductors in transthoracic defibrillators.

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