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Clin Electroencephalogr. 1988 Apr;19(2):55-67.

Somatosensory and brainstem auditory evoked potential studies in nontraumatic coma.

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Department of Neurology, LSU School of Medicine, New Orleans 70112.


We believe that somatosensory and brainstem auditory evoked response studies help in the understanding of the dysfunction of the ascending sensory pathyways at various levels. In some patients where EEGs showed a significant contamination of muscle and background noise, the SEP studies helped to identify the level of dysfunction. The severity of the clinical condition (GCS score) correlated significantly (p = 0.003) with the prolongation of the CCT. Asymmetries in CCTs were more frequent in the stroke group than in the other groups. The presence of asymmetries in CCT in diffuse encephalopathies indicated a variable degree of dysfunction in the ascending sensory pathways, which clinically were not easily identifiable. This fact raised the possibility of either pre-existing lesion(s) or recent insult(s) such as ischemia. The presence or absence of N20 appeared to influence the duration of survival in subgroups. Some degree of difference in duration of survival was noted among the metabolic group with and without N20 potential. The subset of patients with N20 potential survived relatively longer than the group without it. A suggestion of influence was seen in the stroke group, but caution must be exercised because the absence of N20 was compatible with survival. The hypoxic group did not show any difference. A combination of prolonged interpeak EP-N13 and N13-N20 indicated a poor prognosis. A distinct absence of Wave I in BAER limited its usefulness on some occasions. A combination of abnormal interpeak III-V and abnormal CCT seemed to suggest a poor prognosis. Although death generally occurred earlier in the stroke group, age did not seem to influence the mortality in the first 10 days. Similarly, the cause of death also did not seem to influence the course in those 10 days. None of the adult patients survived.

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