The Physiologic Effects of a
Conducted Electrical Weapon on Human Subjects

Vilke GM, Sloane CM, Bouton KD, Kolkhorst FW, Levine SD, Neuman TS,
Castillo EM, Chan TC. Physiological effects of a conducted electrical weapon on human
subjects. Ann Emerg Med, November 2007; V 50, No 5, Pgs 569-575.

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Physiological Effects of a Conducted Electrical Weapon on Human Subjects

Gary M. Vilke, MD; Christian M. Sloane, MD; Katie D. Bouton, BS; Fred W. Kolkhorst, PhD; Saul D. Levine, MD; Tom S. Neuman, MD; Edward M. Castillo, PhD, MPH; Theodore C. Chan, MD.

Presented at the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine annual meeting, May 2007, Chicago, IL.

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.

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.

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.

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

Address for reprints:
Gary M. Vilke, MD
Department of Emergency Medicine
University of California, San Diego Medical Center
200 West Arbor Drive
Mailcode #8676
San Diego, CA 92103
fax 619-543-3115
Vilke’s Email:

[Annals] Supervising editor: E. John Gallagher, MD

Author contributions: GMV and TCC conceived the project, were coprincipal investigators, and worked on protocol formulation. CMS, FWK, SDL, and TSN assisted with protocol refinement. KDB assisted with analysis. GMV, CMS, FWK, SDL, TSN, EMC, and TCC assisted with article preparation. EMC assisted with data management and statistical analysis. GMV, CMS, KDB, FWK, SDL, TSN, and TCC worked on data collection. GMV takes responsibility for the paper as a whole.

Funding and support: By Annals policy, all authors are required to disclose any and all commercial, financial, and other relationships in any way related to the subject of this article, that might create any potential conflict of interest. See the Manuscript Submission Agreement in this issue for examples of specific conflicts covered by this statement. This study was funded by the National Institute of Justice (2005-IJ-CX-K051).

Publication dates: Available online August 24, 2007.
Received 9 March 2007; received in revised form 19 April 2007 and 27 April 2007;
accepted 4 May 2007.

PII: S0196-0644(07)00573-2
© 2007 American College of Emergency Physicians. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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