Institute for the Prevention of In-Custody Deaths
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D. M. Dawes1; J. Ho2; M. Johnson3; J. Miner2
1. Lompoc District Hospital, Lompoc, CA, USA.
2. Hennepin County Medical Center, Minneapolis, MN, USA.
3. TASER International, Scottsdale, AZ, USA.

Presented at Fourth Mediterranean Emergency Medicine Congress (MEMC IV), Sorento, Italy
ID# W2.101 - Location: Poster Hall (Hilton Sorrento Palace)
Time of Presentation: Sepember 19, 2007 - 2:00 PM
Category: Other

INTRODUCTION: Conducted electrical weapons (CEW) induce neuromuscular incapacitation and pain by the application of an electrical current. There has been controversy with regard to the use of these weapons and in-custody death. There has been speculation that the discharge of a CEW may induce neuroendocrine effects that might predispose subjects to delayed cardiac arrhythmias and sudden death. The objective of this study is to compare the neuroendocrine effects of the TASER X26 CEW to oleoresin capsicum (O.C.), commonly called pepper spray.

METHODS: Subjects were randomized to receive either a 5-second back exposure from the TASER X26® CEW or a 2-second spray of O.C. to the eyes. Subjects had salivary samples collected by passive drool through a straw 10-15 minutes before the exposure, and at 10, 20, and 60 minutes after the exposure. Salivary samples were analyzed for quantitative measures of alpha-amylase (surrogate for sympathetic-adrenal-medulla (SAM) axis stimulation, peak at 10 minutes) and cortisol (surrogate for hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis stimulation, peak at 20 minutes).

RESULTS: 10 subjects were randomized to the O.C. exposure, and 5 subjects were randomized to the CEW exposure. There was a 173% (confidence interval 37.3-308.6) increase in alpha-amylase in the O.C. group at 10 minutes compared to an 8% (-33.0-31.3) decrease in the CEW group. Non-significant results included: 1) at one hour, alpha-amylase was 44% (11.8-75.6) over baseline in the O.C. group and 9% (-31.5-49.8) over baseline in the CEW group, 2) there was a 89% (41.9-135.3) increase in cortisol in the O.C. group at 20 minutes and a 90% (-61.3-242.0) increase in the CEW group, 3) at one hour, cortisol was 15% (-44.7-75.2)over baseline in the O.C. group and 68% (-114.4-242.0) over baseline in the CEW group.

CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest a significant greater level of activation of the SAM cascade with O.C. compared to the CEW. Overlapping confidence intervals preclude a definitive statement about the other measurements, but do not suggest a greater activation of the stress cascade by the CEW than O.C.

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