The Evolution of External Defibrillators

A defibrillator is a device designed to deliver electrical shocks through a person’s chest to their heart. This is done to re-establish the normal conduction of electrical impulses in a person’s heart, and could save a person suffering from a heart attack. It is common today to see an automatic external defibrillator (AED) in various public places. This could be shopping centers, restaurants, conference halls and more. This was not always the case. It is a device with an interesting history.

1899: The Early Days of Defibrillation

At the University of Geneva in 1899 is when defibrillation was discovered. It was done by two physiologists named Frédéric Batelli and Louis Prevost. At the time of their discovery, they were conducting research on ventricular fibrillation. This occurs when a heart beats with impulses that are fast and erratic. The two physiologists discovered they could induce fibrillation in dogs. They could do this by placing high-current shocks to the surface of the animal’s heart.

1933: Hyman’s Otor

An article was run in Popular Mechanics in 1933. It described all the possibilities associated with Dr. Albert S. Hyman’s new invention referred to as Hyman’s Otor. It was a device with a hollow steel needle. Wires were carefully insulated and ran to the open points of the needle. Both the central wires and the needle was attached to a spring-driven generator. This provided the device’s current. It could be adjusted to provide electrical impulses with the rate of a heart-beat from a baby to a senior citizen. When a physician was faced with a patient’s heart stopping, they would place the needle between the person’s ribs into their heart. The physician then started the generator and adjusted it to the necessary level of electrical current.

1947:The Development of Spoons

In 1947, a surgeon named Dr. Claude S. Beck is reported to have performed the first successful defibrillation. The patient involved was a 14-year-old boy. The boy did well with a surgery but went into cardiac arrest at the end of it. The boy was successfully resuscitated using a combination of drugs, direct cardiac massage and a shock applied with what seems to have been gauze-covered spoons.

1950: External Pacemaker

In 1952, a team of doctors in Boston, including Harvard cardiologist Dr. Zoll, applied electric charges externally to two patients in order to resuscitate them. Each of the patient’s heart had stopped beating. The first patient to receive the procedure only survived for 20 minutes. The second patient received 52 hours of electrical stimulation and lived for 11 months.

1965: Mobile Defibrillation

Frank Pantridge was a professor from Northern Ireland, In 1965, he invented the first portable defibrillator in the world. Pantridge was often referred to as the father of emergency medicine. The device Pantridge invented depended on a car battery to provide the necessary electrical current. The device weighed 150 pounds and was placed inside of ambulances. The mobile defibrillator was first used in 1966.

1972 President Life Saved

President Lyndon Johnson had a heart attack in 1972. He was able to be revived with using a portable defibrillator. This was accomplished by Dr. Richard S. Crampton. He was part of the University of Virginia’s Medical School in Charlottesville.

Today, an AED is very easy to use. Many states require AEDs to be placed in casinos, schools, health clubs, sports arenas, airports, and many other public places. They are also available to be used in a home. They are now fully automated and weigh around 3 pounds.

Follow Us

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *