What to exclude when brain death is suspected.
J Crit Care. 2019 Jun 29;53:212-217
Authors: Grzonka P, Tisljar K, Rüegg S, Marsch S, Sutter R
BACKGROUND: With advances in critical care and organ donation, diagnosis of brain death is gaining importance. We aimed to assess potential brain death confounders from the literature, elucidating clinical presentation and diagnostic approaches in these cases.
METHODS: PubMed and Embase were screened using 37 predefined search terms to identify suitable articles reporting cases, case series, or cohort studies in adults.
RESULTS: Out of 4769 articles, 40 case reports or case series describing 45 patients with 19 critical conditions were identified. Mortality was 11% and full recovery 33%. Intoxications (42%; mainly anti-seizure drugs and baclofen) and polyneuritis (37%) were most frequent. Brainstem reflex tests were reported in 96%, apnoea test in 16% and ancillary tests in all but one patient. Full recovery mainly occurred with intoxications. Quality of evidence regarding frequency of confounders is very low and risk of bias high.
CONCLUSIONS: Brain death confounders are infrequently reported and formal studies are lacking. Mainly younger patients with polyneuritis and intoxications are described. As outcome, especially in the latter, is often favourable, high awareness and strict adherence to guidelines is crucial. The importance of identifying pathologies compatible with extensive and irreversible brain damage before proceeding to diagnostic tests should be emphasized.
PMID: 31277047 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]