How to Cite This Chapter: Al Duhailib Z, Trusz-Gluza M, Jankowski M. Defibrillation. McMaster Textbook of Internal Medicine. Kraków: Medycyna Praktyczna. Accessed June 22, 2024.
Last Updated: March 31, 2020
Last Reviewed: June 18, 2021
Chapter Information

In defibrillation—conversely to electrical cardioversion—shocks are not synchronized with the electrocardiographic (ECG) R wave. External defibrillation is performed by delivering a shock from the defibrillator through the chest wall. Automated defibrillation is performed using an automated external defibrillator (AED), which is capable of analyzing the rhythm and indicating whether a shock is necessary.


Cardiac arrest caused by ventricular fibrillation (VF); pulseless ventricular tachycardia (VT) including the fastest form: ventricular flutter (monomorphic VT at a rate up to 300 beats/min).


None, assuming the use of defibrillation is not excluded based on the previously expressed patient’s wishes.


Asystole, skin burn at the electrode application sites.


Defibrillator, adhesive electrode pads or manually applied defibrillator paddles, conductive gel, disposable gloves.

Defibrillators are classified as monophasic (delivered current travels in one direction between electrodes) or biphasic (delivered current travels in both directions between electrodes), according to the type of electrical shock they deliver. Monophasic defibrillators require a higher energy discharge, are less effective, and are no longer manufactured, but older models may still be in use in some centers. All AEDs are biphasic.


1. Manual defibrillator: see Cardiac Arrest.

2. AED: see Cardiac Arrest.

We would love to hear from you

Comments, mistakes, suggestions?

We use cookies to ensure you get the best browsing experience on our website. Refer to our Cookies Information and Privacy Policy for more details.