A critical period of ventricular fibrillation more susceptible to defibrillation: Real-time waveform analysis using a single ECG lead

Peng Wie E. Hsia, Sylvia Frerk, Cynthia A. Allen, Robert M. Wise, Neri M. Cohen, Ralph J. Damiano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Previous studies have suggested that variations in the underlying ventricular fibrillation (VF) waveform may be one of the factors responsible for the probabilistic nature of defibrillation. The heart appeared to be more susceptible to defibrillation at higher absolute VF voltages (AVFV). This study investigated in an open-chest canine model (n = 8), a newly developed system that analyzed the VF waveform in real-time, instantaneously determined the time to struck, and immediately delivered a fixed low energy DC shock. A two parameter tracking technique using a running long-term and short-term AVFV average was devised to automatically identify a high voltage peak area of the VF waveform, which has been hypothesized to represent a critical period susceptible to defibrillation. Using a DC shock estimated at the 50% success level, the performance using this technique in 58 defibrillation trials was compared to the performance of the conventional method of shocking at a fixed time (random shock method) in 62 trials. Patch size, electrode location, and discharge voltage were kept constant while VF duration, transmyocardial resistance (TMR), energy delivered, and AVFV at the point of shock were measured. Shock energy and current, TMR, and VF duration were similar with both shock methods. A significantly higher AVFV was observed for trials performed with the peak struck method (0.66 ± 0.02 mV) as compared to trials performed with the random shock method (0.25 ± 0.09 mV) (P < 0.003). Using lead II as the only sensing lead, the success rate was increased in 6 of 8 dogs (75%) with the new method. One animal showed identical performance, and one animal a worse performance. The overall increase in success rate was 24% using a single ECG lead (range 0%-100%; P < 0.04). Our data document that using this algorithm a period of high VF voltage can be detected in real- time. The improved success in the majority of animals supports the hypothesis that a critical period susceptible to defibrillation exists during VF. However, the high A VFV detected using a single ECG lead did not translate to an improved success rate in all animals. This suggests that other factors in addition to the VF voltage measured on a single lead of the ECG are important in characterizing this critical period.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)418-430
Number of pages13
JournalPACE - Pacing and Clinical Electrophysiology
Issue number4 I
StatePublished - 1996


  • VF waveform analysis
  • absolute VF voltage
  • electric countershock
  • real- time processing


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