Defibrillation energy dose during pediatric cardiac arrest: Systematic review of human and animal model studies

Eric Mercier, Etienne Laroche, Ben Beck, Natalie Le Sage, Peter A. Cameron, Marcel Émond, Simon Berthelot, Biswadev Mitra, Julie Ouellet-Pelletier

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To determine the initial defibrillation energy dose that is associated with sustained return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) during paediatric cardiac arrest with ventricular fibrillation or pulseless ventricular tachycardia. Methods: A systematic review was performed using four databases (PROSPERO: CRD42016036734). Human studies and animal model studies of pediatric cardiac arrest involving assessment of external defibrillation energy dosing were considered. The primary outcome was sustained ROSC. Survival and defibrillation-induced complications were also evaluated. Results: The search strategy identified 14,471 citations of which 232 manuscripts were reviewed. Ten human and 10 animal model studies met the inclusion criteria. Human studies were prospective (n = 6) or retrospective (n = 4) cohort studies and included between 11 and 266 patients (median = 46 patients). Sustained ROSC rates ranged from 0 to 61% (n = 7). No studies reported a statistically significant association between the initial defibrillation energy dose and the rate of sustained ROSC (n = 7) or survival (n = 6). Meta-analysis was not considered appropriate due to clinical heterogeneity. Risk of bias was moderate. All animal studies were randomized controlled trials with 8 and 52 (median = 27) piglets. ROSC was frequently achieved (≥85%) with energy dose ranging from 2 to 7 J/kg (n = 7). The defibrillation threshold varied according to the body weight and appears to be higher in infant. Conclusion: Defibrillation energy doses and thresholds varied according to the body weight and trended higher for infants. No definitive association between initial defibrillation doses and the sustained ROSC or survival could be demonstrated. Clinicians should follow local consensus-based guidelines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-252
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019


  • Cardiac arrest
  • Defibrillation
  • Pediatric
  • Ventricular fibrillation

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