Randomized double-blind trial of sotalol versus lignocaine in out-of-hospital refractory cardiac arrest due to ventricular tachyarrhythmia


  • Funding: This project was funded by a grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia.

    Potential conflicts of interest: None

Correspondence: Dr Pramesh Kovoor, Department of Cardiology, Westmead Hospital, Westmead, NSW 2145, Australia. Email: kovoor@westgate.wh.usyd.edu.au



Aim: We aimed to compare the efficacy of sotalol versus lignocaine for the treatment of patients with out-of-hospital ventricular fibrillation refractory to ≥4 defibrillatory shocks.

Background: The outcome of patients in ventricular fibrillation refractory to ≥4 defibrillatory shocks is poor. In a previous randomized trial, sotalol was superior to lignocaine for acute termination of ventricular tachycardia not causing loss of consciousness.

Methods: Patients of the Ambulance Service of New South Wales treated by paramedics with continued ventricular fibrillation despite standard resuscitation and ≥4 defibrillatory monophasic shocks were eligible. Drug doses were sotalol 100 mg or lignocaine 100 mg, given as i.v. boluses. A further 2 min of cardiopulmonary resuscitation was given and then defibrillation was repeated twice. If this failed, half the initial dose of the trial drug was repeated and a further ≥2 shocks were given.

Results: Sixty patients were randomized to sotalol and 69 randomized to lignocaine. There was no significant difference between the two groups in the clinical characteristics of the patients or in the number of shocks received. Outcomes in the sotalol and lignocaine groups were survival to hospital admission in 7 (12%) and 16 (23%), respectively (P = 0.09), and survival to hospital discharge in 2 (3%) and 5 (7%), respectively (P = 0.33).

Conclusions: Sotalol is not superior to lignocaine for treatment of ventricular fibrillation refractory to multiple shocks. The overall outcome of this group of patients is poor regardless of the pharmacological intervention (lignocaine or sotalol). (Intern Med J 2005; 35: 518–525)