Defibrillation waveform and post-shock rhythm in out-of-hospital ventricular fibrillation cardiac arrest

Resuscitation. 2003 Nov;59(2):189-96. doi: 10.1016/s0300-9572(03)00183-7.


Background: The importance of the defibrillation waveform on the evolving post-shock cardiac rhythm is uncertain. The primary objective of this study was to evaluate cardiac rhythms following the first defibrillation shock, comparing biphasic truncated exponential (BTE), monophasic damped sinusoidal (MDS), and monophasic truncated exponential (MTE) waveforms in patients experiencing out-of-hospital ventricular fibrillation cardiac arrest (OHCA).

Methods: We reviewed the automated external defibrillator (AED) and emergency medical services (EMS) records of 366 patients who suffered OHCA and were treated with defibrillation shocks by first-tier emergency responders between 1 January 1999 and 31 August 2002 in King County, Washington. The post first shock rhythms were determined at 5, 10, 20, 30, and 60 s and compared according to defibrillation waveform.

Results: The MDS and BTE waveforms were associated with significantly higher frequency of defibrillation than the MTE waveform, though only the BTE association persisted to 30 and 60 s. No difference in defibrillation rates was detected between MDS and BTE waveforms. By 60 s, an organized rhythm was present in a greater proportion for BTE (40.0%) compared with MDS (25.4%, P=0.01) or MTE (26.5%, P=0.07).

Conclusion: In this retrospective cohort investigation, MDS and BTE waveforms had higher first shock defibrillation rates than the MTE waveform, while patients treated with the BTE waveform were more likely to develop an organized rhythm within 60 s of the initial shock. The results of this investigation, however, do not provide evidence that these surrogate advantages are important for improving survival. Additional investigation is needed to improve the understanding of the role of waveform and its potential interaction with other clinical factors in order to optimize survival in OHCA.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Automation
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation / methods
  • Cohort Studies
  • Electric Countershock / instrumentation
  • Electric Countershock / methods*
  • Electrocardiography
  • Emergency Medical Services / methods*
  • Female
  • Heart Arrest / mortality*
  • Heart Arrest / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Probability
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States
  • Ventricular Fibrillation / diagnosis
  • Ventricular Fibrillation / mortality*
  • Ventricular Fibrillation / therapy*