JOURNAL ARTICLE

Physiological effects of a conducted electrical weapon on human subjects

Gary M Vilke, Christian M Sloane, Katie D Bouton, Fred W Kolkhorst, Saul D Levine, Tom S Neuman, Edward M Castillo, Theodore C Chan
Annals of Emergency Medicine 2007, 50 (5): 569-75
17719689

STUDY OBJECTIVE: Sudden death after a conducted electrical weapon exposure has not been well studied. We examine the effects of a single Taser exposure on markers of physiologic stress in healthy humans.

METHODS: This is a prospective trial investigating the effects of a single Taser exposure. As part of their police training, 32 healthy law enforcement officers received a 5-second Taser electrical discharge. Measures before and for 60 minutes after an exposure included minute ventilation; tidal volume; respiratory rate (RR); end-tidal PCO2; oxygen saturation, pulse rate; blood pressure (systolic blood pressure/diastolic blood pressure); arterialized blood for pH, PO2, PCO2, and lactate; and venous blood for bicarbonate and electrolytes. Troponin I was measured at 6 hours. Data were analyzed using a repeated-measures ANOVA and paired t tests.

RESULTS: At 1 minute postexposure, minute ventilation increased from a mean of 16 to 29 L/minute, tidal volume increased from 0.9 to 1.4 L, and RR increased from 19 to 23 breaths/min, all returning to baseline at 10 min. Pulse rate of 102 beats/min and systolic blood pressure of 139 mm Hg were higher before Taser exposure than at anytime afterward. Blood lactate increased from 1.4 mmol/L at baseline to 2.8 mmol/L at 1 minute, returning to baseline at 30 minutes. pH And bicarbonate decreased, respectively, by 0.03 and 1.2 mEq/L at 1 minute, returning to baseline at 30 minutes. All troponin I values were normal and there were no EKG changes. Ventilation was not interrupted, and there was no hypoxemia or hypercarbia.

CONCLUSION: A 5-second exposure of a Taser X26 to healthy law enforcement personnel does not result in clinically significant changes of physiologic stress.

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