Users Online: 767 Home Print this page Email this page Small font sizeDefault font sizeIncrease font size  
Home | About us | Editorial board | Search | Ahead of print | Current issue | Archives | Submit article | Instructions | Subscribe | Contacts | Login 

RSACP wishes to inform that it shall be discontinuing the dispatch of print copy of JOACP to it's Life members. The print copy of JOACP will be posted only to those life members who send us a written confirmation for continuation of print copy.
Kindly email your affirmation for print copies to preferably by 30th June 2019.


Table of Contents
Year : 2015  |  Volume : 31  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 131-132

An unusual cause of electrocardiogram interference in the operation theater

Department of Anesthesiology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India

Date of Web Publication3-Feb-2015

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Ankur Sharma
C/O Mr. Suneel Vyas, C 2/2287, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0970-9185.150576

Rights and Permissions

How to cite this article:
Sharma A, Sinha R. An unusual cause of electrocardiogram interference in the operation theater. J Anaesthesiol Clin Pharmacol 2015;31:131-2

How to cite this URL:
Sharma A, Sinha R. An unusual cause of electrocardiogram interference in the operation theater. J Anaesthesiol Clin Pharmacol [serial online] 2015 [cited 2020 Jun 1];31:131-2. Available from:


We report an electrocardiogram (ECG) malfunction in the operation theater (OT) during pediatric surgery. After induction of anesthesia, ECG leads of monitor (Datex-Ohmeda Division type f-CUB.09, S.N. -5161632) were connected to the patient. ECG tracing showed straight line on the monitor. We changed ECG electrodes and leads multiple times; however, there was no ECG trace on the monitor. Then another cardiac monitor was connected to a different electric board, and ECG leads were connected to the patient with different ECG electrodes. The new monitor also showed a flat line. Earthing wire connection of the monitor was also checked, which was adequately placed. A resident suddenly felt conducting current when he touched child and OT table. Immediately electrical connection of OT table was removed, which resulted in appearance of normal ECG tracing on both monitors.

In another case, pediatric warming gel mattress was put on the OT table and connected to the electrical circuit. When ECG leads were connected to the child, it showed continuous disturbance [Figure 1]. Even with the change of ECG leads and monitor, the disturbances could not be corrected. Earth wire of the monitor was also checked and found to be well connected. Removal of electrical cable of the OT table did not help. Then electrical cable of warming mattress was removed, which resulted in normal ECG tracing.
Figure 1: Continuous disturbance in electrocardiogram (ECG) with warming mattress connected to the electrical circuit and normal ECG tracing after electrical cable of warming mattress removed

Click here to view

It was noticed that the connecting electrical cable of OT table (first case) and of warming mattress (in the second case) had a plug with only two pins, and there was a hole at the place of earthing pin [Figure 2].
Figure 2: Electrical plug (CEE 7/7) with only two pin and a hole at the place of earthing pin and electrical socket with earthing pin

Click here to view

Electrocardiogram tracing artifact can simulate serious arrhythmia, thus leading to unnecessary action in the OT and intensive care unit. The passage of current through a patient can also be potentially fatal. The patient under anesthesia or sedation will not report any symptoms of current passing through his body. Hence, any unexplained ECG abnormality under these circumstances should be immediately looked into to avoid disastrous consequences. Wills et al. [1] described a macroshock electrical injury to a nurse during plugging equipment to an extension cord. Selvan et al. [2] have reported intra-aortic balloon pump failure due to ECG artifact, which occurred on placement of the transthoracic echocardiography probe over the chest due to leakage of current from echocardiography machine secondary to earthing defect. Courtney et al. [3] have reported hazard resulting from compression of an electrical cable by OT table due to a live wire contact.

In our case, the cause of electrical interference in ECG tracing was due to an electrical cable with different plug, which is not being used in India. In different countries, different types of electrical power plugs and socket have been used, which may not be interchangeable. In our case, the electrical plug was compatible with socket having the earthing pin [Figure 2]. However, in India, electrical socket do not have earthing pin to accommodate the hole present in the CEE 7/7 plug. Secondly, the same electrical lead containing the CEE 7/7 plug can be connected to OT table, cardiac monitor and warming mattress machine. Therefore, it is essential that companies should provide those electrical lead with plugs, which are compatible to the existing system in the country to prevent unnecessary distress and disastrous consequences. OT personnel and staff should also be trained so that they will not connect plugs, which are not compatible to the existing pin system.

  References Top

Wills JH, Ehrenwerth J, Rogers D. Electrical injury to a nurse due to conductive fluid in an operating room designated as a dry location. Anesth Analg 2010;110:1647-9.  Back to cited text no. 1
Selvan RB, Rao PB, Ramachandran TR, Veliath DG. Earthing defect: A cause for unstable hemodynamics. Ann Card Anaesth 2012;15:47-9.  Back to cited text no. 2
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
Courtney NM, McCoy EP, Scolaro RJ, Watt PA. A serious and repeatable electrical hazard - compressed electrical cord and an operating table. Anaesth Intensive Care 2006;34:392-6.  Back to cited text no. 3


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2]


    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
    Access Statistics
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

  In this article
   Article Figures

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded181    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal