AED Pad Placement
Automated External Defibrillator pads (also known as AED electrode pads) are an essential part of any lifesaving AED machine. These pads are placed on the bare chest of a person who is suspected to be suffering from Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). Once placed on the chest, the AED unit can determine if the person’s heart is in a lethal rhythm that needs to be treated with a defibrillation shock. If the AED determines a shock is needed, electricity is safely administered to the person through the electrode pads to restart their heart back into a normal rhythm.
In this guide, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about where to place AED pads on adults and children. Before diving in, let’s discuss the different types of AED pad placement.
Anterior Posterior Pad Placement & Anterior Lateral Pad Placement
Common technical terms you will hear to describe defibrillator pad placement include “anterior-posterior” and “anterior-lateral.” What do these terms actually mean?
First, let’s define anatomical position. Anatomical position refers to the standard position that the body is oriented when using describing position with terms such as anterior, posterior, and lateral. Specifically, standard anatomical position is when the body is essentially equivalent to what you would see when someone is flat on their back, palms and toes facing forward, and both the arms and legs slightly separated so they are not touching the torso or eachother.
Anterior posterior or anteroposterior means the “front and back” of the body in this standard anatomical position. A feature that is anterior to another is closer to the front of the body whereas a feature posterior to another is located closer to the back of the body. In the case of AED pads, this specifically means that one AED pad is placed on the front of the chest while the other AED pad is placed on the back as seen in the illustration.
As for anterior lateral or anterolateral , this is equivalent to “toward the front” and “towards the edge” in standard anatomical position. Anterior features are closer to the front of the body while lateral features are closer to the edge of the body. This type of defibrillator pad placement is when one AED pad is placed on the right side of the chest (just below the collarbone) while the other pad is put on the lower left side of the chest.
One great thing about AED electrode pads is that the pads have graphics on them that show you where to place them on the body. Remember: all defib pads must be placed directly on bare skin!
Where to put AED pads on Adults?
AED pad placement is the same for all adults. Where you put AED pads on a woman = where you put AED pads on a man = where you put AED pads on a pregnant woman. It’s all the same!
The electrode pad placement might vary from one AED brand to the next, so be sure to check your AED’s owner’s manual for specific electrode pad placement instructions. If you can’t find it there, most AEDs have an image printed directly on the electrode pads that show where they should be placed on a person’s body.
Where to put AED pads on Children?
There are several additional considerations when it comes to placing AED pads on a child. Read more about the specifics of child defibrillator pad placement with our Pediatric AED Pad Guide.
See our Pediatric AED Pad Guide
Frequently Asked Questions
What are defibrillator pads made of?
AED pads are made of plastic, metal, and a conductive adhesive gel that sticks to the patient and helps deliver lifesaving defibrillation shocks.
Can I reuse AED pads?
No, AED electrode pads are single-use and must be replaced after they are used for an emergency or when they expire. Expiration dates for different AED pads vary by manufacturer. Learn more about the cost, usable life, and more for different AED pads with our AED Electrode Pad Guide. (link to AED comparison about electrode pads)
Can you use an AED on someone with a pacemaker?
AEDs can be used on patients with a pacemaker, however, do not apply the AED’s electrode pads directly over an implanted pacemaker in the patient. As always, check your AED’s user manual for more information.