[Totally paralyzed or brain dead?]
SourceNederlands Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde, 145, 52, (2001), pp. 2513-2516
Article / Letter to editor
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Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde
SubjectPathophysiology of Brain and Behaviour; Pathofysiologie van Hersenen en Gedrag
In two patients, men aged 23 and 42 years, a condition that mimicked brain death was observed as a consequence of rapidly progressive complete peripheral paralyses, which included the intrinsic and extrinsic eye muscles. However, the EEG revealed a waking pattern. Maximal supportive therapy was provided, which included haemodialysis for the first patient and artificial ventilation for both patients. A slow recovery was seen after four weeks. The first patient was paralyzed following the ingestion of a large quantity of ethylene glycol and the second by botulism due to the consumption of injudiciously canned food. In patients with catastrophic brain injury, the diagnosis of brain death can be confirmed by a clinical neurological examination. In considering the diagnosis 'brain death', the most important criterion is that the cause of the brain damage is established. If the cause is insufficiently, the presence of brain death should be seriously doubted, unless an isoelectric EEG is observed.
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