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Date of last update: 10/20/2017.

Forum Name: Miscellaneous Cardiology Topics

Question: risks of a defibrillator

 gables - Tue Jan 13, 2009 4:03 pm

This may sound silly, but I heard this from a CPR instructor. Is it possible for someones internals or externals to catch fire, from having too much alcohol in their system, from the use of a defibrillator?
 John Kenyon, CNA - Wed Jan 14, 2009 9:03 pm

User avatar Hi there -

This actually sounds a lot less silly than it is, and I'm surprised no one's ever asked me this before. However, it's not an issue, because alcohol is metabolized rather quickly and isn't generally in areas where a spark, if there were one loose in there somewhere, could find any oxygen to help cause a burp, much less an explosion. While there used to be a big fascination with the topic of human spontaneous combustion, I suspect the widespread use of implantable defibrillators has knocked that one out of circulation. In short, no. This won't happen.

What the CPR instructor may have meant may have been one of the very few OR explosions which have been caused by a combination of use of alcohol topically (along with Betadyne) to clean the surface of a patient's skin, then having had defibrillator paddles applied emergently, which is an entirely different (and astoundingly rare) thing altogether. This has happened once or twice.

Hope this is helpful. Good luck to you.

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