Effects of CEWs on Respiration

  • Donald M. Dawes

Conducted electrical weapons (CEWs) induce neuromuscular incapacitation and pain by the application of low-current electrical discharge with special waveforms. The electrical current is delivered by tethered, gas-propelled probes in the most utilized weapons and stimulates both afferent sensory neurons causing pain and efferent motor neurons causing involuntary regional skeletal muscle contractions. There is controversy in the lay press and the medical literature regarding the use of these weapons and the sudden in-custody death phenomenon. There is speculation that the muscle contractions induced by the electrical current may impair breathing leading to hypoxemia (low oxygen content on the blood) and hypercarbia (high carbon dioxide content in the blood). In this chapter, the current medical literature about the effects of these weapons on respiration will be reviewed.


Phrenic Nerve Alveolar Pressure Scalene Muscle Physiologic Dead Space Alveolar Dead Space 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Emergency MedicineLompoc District Hospital

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