Manual external defibrillator
The units are used in conjunction with (or more often have inbuilt) electrocardiogram readers, which the healthcare provider uses to diagnose a cardiac condition (most often fibrillation or tachycardia although there are some other rhythms which can be treated by different shocks). The healthcare provider will then decide what charge (in joules) to use, based on proven guidelines and experience, and will deliver the shock through paddles or pads on the patient's chest. As they require detailed medical knowledge, these units are generally only found in hospitals and on some ambulances. For instance, every NHS ambulance in the United Kingdom is equipped with a manual defibrillator for use by the attending paramedics and technicians. In the United States, many advanced EMTs and all paramedics are trained to recognize lethal arrhythmias and deliver appropriate electrical therapy with a manual defibrillator when appropriate.
Manual internal defibrillator
These are the direct descendants of the work of Beck and Lown. They are virtually identical to the external version, except that the charge is delivered through internal paddles in direct contact with the heart. These are almost exclusively found in operating theatres, where the chest is likely to be open, or can be opened quickly by a surgeon.
Automated external defibrillator (AED)
. The AED box has information on how to use it in Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean, and station staff are trained to use it.]]
These simple-to-use units are based on computer technology which is designed to analyze the heart rhythm itself, and then advise the user whether a shock is required. They are designed to be used by lay persons, who require little training to operate them correctly. They are usually limited in their interventions to delivering high joule shocks for VF (ventricular fibrillation) and VT (ventricular tachycardia) rhythms, making them generally limited for use by health professionals, who could diagnose and treat a wider range of problems with a manual or semi-automatic unit.
The automatic units also take time (generally 10–20 seconds) to diagnose the rhythm, where a professional could diagnose and treat the condition far more quickly with a manual unit. These time intervals for analysis, which require stopping chest compressions, have been shown in a number of studies to have a significant negative effect on shock success. This effect led to the recent change in the AHA defibrillation guideline (calling for two minutes of CPR after each shock without analyzing the cardiac rhythm) and some bodies recommend that AEDs should not be used when manual defibrillators and trained operators are available. The unit monitors the patient 24 hours a day and will automatically deliver a biphasic shock if needed. This device is mainly indicated in patients awaiting an implantable defibrillator. Currently only one company manufactures these and they are of limited availability.
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