Taser Barb Removal

9 Jan

A taser allows police to temporarily disable a suspect, shooting two probes out for a maximum taserbarbdistance of 21 feet.

The probe is similar to a #8 fishhook, so most have a 4mm barb and shaft 9.5mm in length.

Usually the probe penetrates less than 2-3cm.


Contraindications: eye involvement, suspicion of ruptured globe, genital impalement, spinal column involvement, an uncooperative patient, having taser probe wires still attached, bone/tendon/cartilage involvement


Equipment and supplies:

Local anesthetic with or without epinephrine (depending on the body part involved)

18 gauge needle

Sterile gloves

Sterile sheet

Sterile gauze dressing

Eye protection


Method: similar to the needle cover method for fishhook removal…

  1. Anesthetize the area at the site of attachment.
    2. Insert an 18 gauge needle along the side of the barb with the bevel side facing the curvature of the hook.
    3. Advance the needle about half a centimeter. The needle is slipped on the tip of the barb.
    4. Pull out the needle and the barb together as a unit using the needle to prevent the barb from embedding into the tissue.

If there is difficulty with the above method, consider the “advance and cut” or “string yank” method as described in the fishhook removal literature.  (Editor’s note: I’ve had good success with the “string yank” method, as have many officers of the law, anecdotally).  

Worst case scenario, an incision can be made with an #11 blade scalpel along the hook for removal.

Don’t forget to update tetanus if necessary. The patient can then be discharged with standard wound care instructions and return precautions.


Submitted by Kelly Estes. 


References: Davenport M, Walz R, Heidelberger C, et al: Fishhook and Taser Removal. McGraw-Hill’s Access Emergency Medicine, 2009.

Picture (http://www.epmonthly.com/whitecoat/2010/10/dont-taze-me-bro/)


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