Internal defibrillation with minimal skeletal muscle activation: A new paradigm toward painless defibrillation

Vinod Jayam, Menekhem Zviman, Venku Jayanti, Ariel Roguin, Henry Halperin, Ronald D. Berger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background: Shock-induced pain produces substantial morbidity in recipients of implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs). This pain likely derives from activation of skeletal muscle and associated nerves in the chest and abdomen. In an effort to develop a painless defibrillation system, we designed an electrode arrangement that incorporates a conductive sock placed around the heart to confine the electric shock field to cardiac tissue. Objectives: The purpose of this study was to test whether cardiac defibrillation could be achieved without skeletal muscle activation using a novel electrode system. Methods: Eight adult mongrel dogs were studied. Force of skeletal muscle contraction was measured by strain gauges attached to the forelimbs during delivery of internal shocks ranging in energy from 0.1 to 31 J. Biphasic shocks were delivered (1) between a right ventricular coil and a subcutaneous dummy can (standard configuration), and (2) between a left ventricular coil and an epicardial electrode sock. Internal and external defibrillation thresholds (DFTs) were determined for each electrode configuration. Results: Shock-induced muscle contrac tion force was significantly lower using the sock electrode than with standard ICD electrodes at every shock energy level tested (P < .0001). Internal DFT was similar between electrode configurations (sock electrode: 8.6 ± 4.2 J; standard: 11.0 ± 6.3 J, P = .4), but muscle contraction force at DFT was greatly reduced with the new electrode system (1.8 ± 2.0 kg vs 10.6 ± 2.1 kg, P < .0001). The sock electrode rendered external defibrillation impossible, however, even at 360 J. Conclusion: Skeletal muscle activation induced by ICD shocks can be greatly reduced using an electrode system that confines the electric shock field to the heart. Refinement of this strategy may allow for delivery of painless shocks by ICDs. Further development is needed to overcome implant complexity and the higher external DFT with this type of electrode system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1108-1113
Number of pages6
JournalHeart Rhythm
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2005


  • Defibrillation
  • Electrical stimulation
  • Morbidity
  • Muscles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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