Effects of vagal tone on resuscitation from experimental electromechanical dissociation

Daniel J. DeBehnke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations


Study objective: To determine if complete loss of vagal tone improves the return of spontaneous circulation rate in a canine model of electromechanical dissociation cardiac arrest. Design: Prospective, controlled laboratory investigation using an asphyxial canine cardiac arrest model randomized to receive bilateral cervical vagotomy or no vagotomy. Interventions: After the production of asphyxial electromechanical dissociation arrest, 16 mongrel dogs remained in untreated electromechanical dissociation for ten minutes and then were randomized to receive bilateral cervical vagotomy or no vagotomy. All animals received standard external CPR and epinephrine (0.02 mg/kg every five minutes) throughout resuscitation. Measurements and main results: Return of spontaneous circulation was achieved in 13% (one of eight) of no vagotomy and 75% (six of eight) of vagotomy animals (P = .02). Survival to one hour was achieved in 100% (one of one) of no vagotomy and 83% (five of six) of vagotomy animals (P = NS). The hemodynamic and arterial blood gas values at five, ten, and 15 minutes into resuscitation were not significantly different between groups. Conclusion: In this canine model of asphyxial electromechanical dissociation cardiac arrest, surgical vagotomy and complete loss of vagal tone improved the rate of return of spontaneous circulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1789-1794
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of emergency medicine
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1993



  • electromechanical dissociation
  • parasympathetic nervous system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine

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