Introduction: Electronic control with the CEW (conducted electrical weapon) has gained widespread acceptance as the preferred force option due to its significant injury reduction. However, a CEW application does stress the human body. In the case of the CEW, the human body response is similar to the challenge of physical exercise combined with emotional stress over a very short time interval. There has been concern whether the tension of the skeletal-muscle system together with the emotional stress of being exposed to the effects of a CEW, can lead to severe metabolic dysfunction. Methods: A systematic and careful search of the MedLine database was performed to find publications describing pathophysiological effects of CEWs. Additional publications were collected through a manual search of reference lists in retrieved articles. After preliminary exclusions, we carefully reviewed the remaining publications and found 24 papers reporting prospective human clinical research data on adrenergic, ventilation, or metabolic effects. Where there were multiple studies on the same endpoints, we performed meta-analyses. Results: A CEW exposure provides a clinically insignificant increase in heart rate (7.5 BPM) and a drop in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Alpha-amylase goes down but cortisol levels increase—both epinephrine and norepinephrine levels are increased by levels similar to mild exercise. A CEW exposure increases ventilation but does not appear to interfere with gas exchange. Lactate is increased slightly while the pH is decreased slightly with changes equivalent to mild exercise. The lactate and pH changes appear quickly and do not appear to be affected by increasing the exposure duration from 5 to 30 s. Conclusions: Thorough review and meta-analyses show that electrical weapon exposures have mixed and mild adrenergic effects. Ventilation is increased and there are metabolic changes similar to mild exercise.
- Conducted electrical weapon
- Forensic medicine
- Metabolic effects
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine