AimTo determine the optimal first-shock energy level for biphasic defibrillation and whether fixed or escalating protocols for subsequent shocks are most effective. MethodsWe searched Medline, Embase, Cochrane CENTRAL, CINAHL, the Web of Science and national and international trial registry databases for papers published from database inception to January 2022. We reviewed reference lists of key papers to identify additional references. The population included adults sustaining non traumatic out-of-hospital cardiac arrest subject to attempted defibrillation. Studies of internal or monophasic defibrillation and studies other than randomised controlled trials or prospective cohorts were excluded. Two reviewers assessed study relevance. Data extraction and risk of bias assessment, using the ROBINS-I tool, were conducted by one reviewer and checked by a second reviewer. Data underwent intention-to-treat analysis. ResultsWe identified no studies evaluating first shock energy. Only one study (n = 738) comparing fixed versus escalating energy met eligibility criteria: a prospective cohort analysis of a randomised controlled trial of manual versus mechanical CPR. High fixed (360 J) energy was compared with an escalating (200–200/300–360 J) strategy. Researchers found 27.5% (70/255) of patients in the escalating energy group and 27.61% (132/478) in the fixed high energy group survived to hospital discharge (unadjusted risk ratio 0.99, 95% CI 0.73, 1.23). Results were of very low certainty as the study was at serious risk of bias. ConclusionThis systematic review did not identify an optimal first-shock energy for biphasic defibrillation. We identified no survival advantage at 30 days when comparing 360 J fixed with 200 J escalating strategy.

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