Objective: Following out-of-hospital defibrillation attempts, electrocardiographic instability challenges accurate assessment of defibrillation efficacy and post-shock rhythm. Presently, there is no precise definition of defibrillation efficacy in the out-of-hospital setting that is consistently used. The objective of this study was to characterize out-of-hospital cardiac arrest rhythms following low-energy biphasic and high-energy monophasic shocks in order to precisely define defibrillation efficacy and establish uniform criteria for the evaluation of shock performance.
Methods: Automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) delivering 150 J impedance-compensating biphasic or 200-360 J monophasic damped sine waveform shocks were observed in a combined police and paramedic program. ECGs from 29 biphasic patients and 87 monophasic patients were classified as organized, asystole or VF at post-shock times of 3, 5, 10, 20 and 60 s.
Results: Post-shock time (P<0.0001) and shock waveform type (P = 0.02) affected the classification of post-shock rhythm. At each analysis time, there were more patients in VF following high-energy monophasic shocks than following 150 J biphasic shocks (P<0.0001). The percentage of patients in VF increased with post-shock time. The rate of VF recurrence was not a function of shock type, indicating that refibrillation is largely a function of the patient's underlying cardiac disease.
Conclusion: Defibrillation should uniformly be defined as termination of VF for a minimum of 5-s after shock delivery. Rhythms should be reported at 5-s after shock delivery to assess early effects of the defibrillation shock and at 60-s after shock delivery to assess the interaction of the defibrillation therapy and factors such as post-shock myocardial dysfunction and the patient's underlying cardiac disease.