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Neurol Res. 2015 Nov;37(11):945-50. doi: 10.1179/1743132815Y.0000000072. Epub 2015 Jul 17.

Pupillometry in brain death: differences in pupillary diameter between paediatric and adult subjects.



The determination of brain death in neonates, infants, children and adults relies on a clinical diagnosis based on the absence of neurological function with a known irreversible cause of brain injury. Evaluation of pupil size and non-reactivity is a requisite for determination of brain death. There are no studies in the literature that quantitatively assess pupil size in brain dead children and adults.


Infants, children and adults diagnosed with brain death were included in the study. Pupils were measured with a quantitative pupillometer (Forsite; Neuroptics, Irvine, CA, USA). Median, minimum and maximum pupil sizes were documented and the results were adjudicated for age, vasopressor use and temperature.


Median right and left pupil sizes were 5.01 ± 0.85 mm and 5.12 ± 0.87 mm, respectively, with a range between 3.69 and 7.34 mm. Paediatric pupils were larger than adult pupils (right pupil 5.53 vs 4.73 mm p: 0.018; left pupil 5.87 vs 4.77 mm P: 0.03), and there was no correlation of pupil size with temperature or increasing number of vasopressors.


This is the first study in the literature objectively evaluating pupil sizes in infants, children and adults diagnosed with brain death. We observed variation between observed pupil size and that expected based on brain death determination guidelines.


Anoxia; Brain death,; Pupil size,; Pupillometry,

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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