Conducted energy device


  • Conducted Energy Device, Conducted Energy Weapon, Electronic Control Device, Electrical Control Device, and Electronic Control Weapon all refer to same thing
  • Commonly referred to as Tasers by lay public
  • Purpose of a Conducted Energy Device (CED) is to provide law enforcement officers with broader choices on use of force spectrum
  • Used to control combative individuals
  • 99.75% of time no significant injury as result of using device per Department of Justice (DOJ) study [1]

Mechanism of Action

  • Either through direct contact or with fired probes, which penetrate up to 1/2 inch into body a current is delivered which causes neuromuscular interference resulting in temporary paralysis for seconds which often results in uncontrolled fall.
    • Electrical current captures skeletal muscle and tends to stay on outside of muscle
    • Immediate relief occurs after application of energy ceases.

Clinical Features

  • Consider underlying reason why CEDs was used i.e. medical crisis, serious physiological distress, drug/alcohol intoxication, altered mental status, combative individual
  • Pain secondary to induced forceful muscle contracture
  • Puncture wound and often minor burn from barbs
  • +/- signs/symptoms of trauma from uncontrolled fall
  • No clinically relevant changes in ventilation, acid-base status, electrolyte concentrations, troponin I level or EKG noted [2]

Differential Diagnosis


  • Routine history and physical examination
    • Consider history of cardiac disease
    • Consider history of pacemaker/defibrillator
    • Consider drug or alcohol intoxication, psychiatric disturbance, altered mental status
  • Look for direct injury from barb and indirect injury from fall
  • No need for routine performance of labs, EKGs, or prolonged observation after CED exposure in otherwise awake and alert patient
  • More extensive testing and evaluation may be appropriate in individual cases based on history and physical examination i.e. EKG if chest pain, palpitations, or cardiac history


  • Barb removal then wound care for small puncture wound and minor burn at barb site


  • Most healthy individuals may be discharged (often to the custody of law enforcement) after barb removal
  • Appropriate medical intervention/consultation if barb in vulnerable area such as mouth, eyes, neck, groin

See Also

External Links


  1. Bozeman, W, et al. Safety and Injury Profile of Conducted Energy Weapons Used by Law Enforcement Officers Against Criminal Suspects, Annals of Emerg. Med. 2009.
  2. Vilke, GM, Sloane CM, Bouton KD, et al. Physiological Effects of a Conducted Electrical Weapon on Human Subjects. Annals of Emergency Medicine. 2007; 50(5) 569-575.