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Handb Clin Neurol. 2013;118:191-203. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-444-53501-6.00016-0.

Brain death.

Author information

  • 1Division of Critical Care Neurology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA. Electronic address: wijde@mayo.edu.

Abstract

The diagnosis of brain death should be based on a simple premise. If every possible confounder has been excluded and all possible treatments have been tried or considered, irreversible loss of brain function is clinically recognized as the absence of brainstem reflexes, verified apnea, loss of vascular tone, invariant heart rate, and, eventually, cardiac standstill. This condition cannot be reversed - not even partly - by medical or surgical intervention, and thus is final. Many countries in the world have introduced laws that acknowledge that a patient can be declared brain-dead by neurologic standards. The U.S. law differs substantially from all other brain death legislation in the world because the U.S. law does not spell out details of the neurologic examination. Evidence-based practice guidelines serve as a standard. In this chapter, I discuss the history of development of the criteria, the current clinical examination, and some of the ethical and legal issues that have emerged. Generally, the concept of brain death has been accepted by all major religions. But patients' families may have different ideas and are mostly influenced by cultural attitudes, traditional customs, and personal beliefs. Suggestions are offered to support these families.

© 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

KEYWORDS:

apnea; brain death; brainstem; coma; organ donation

PMID:
24182378
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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