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Intracardiac Electrocardiographic Assessment of Precordial TASER Shocks in Human Subjects: A Pilot Study

NCJ Number
Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine Volume: 52 Dated: November 2017 Pages: 70-74
Date Published
November 2017
5 pages
Since case reports of cardiac arrest in temporal proximity to Conducted Electrical Weapon(CEW) exposure raise legitimate concerns about this as a rare possibility, this pilot study navigated the oversight and regulatory hurdles and demonstrated the intra-shock electrocardiographic effects of an intentional transcardiac CEW discharge, using subcutaneous probes placed directly across the precordium of patients with a previously implanted intracardiac EKG sensing lead.

Adults scheduled to undergo diagnostic EP studies or replacement of an implanted cardiac device were enrolled. Sterile subcutaneous electrodes were placed at the right sternoclavicular junction and the left lower costal margin at the midclavicular line. A standard police issue TASER Model X26 CEW was attached to the subcutaneous electrodes and a 5 s discharge was delivered. Continuous surface and intracardiac EKG monitoring was performed. A total of 157 subjects were reviewed for possible inclusion and 21 were interviewed. Among these, 4 subjects agreed and completed the study protocol. All subjects tolerated the 5 s CEW discharge without clinical complications. There were no significant changes in mean heart rate or blood pressure. Interrogation of the devices after CEW discharge revealed no ventricular pacing, dysrhythmias, damage or interference with the implanted devices. Thus, this pilot study successfully navigated the regulatory hurdles and demonstrated the feasibility of performing intracardiac EKG recording during intentional precordial CEW discharges in humans. Although no CEW-associated dysrhythmias were noted, the size of this preliminary dataset precludes making conclusions about the risk of such events. Larger studies are warranted and should consider exploring variations of the CEW electrode position in relation to the cardiac silhouette. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: November 1, 2017