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Year : 2018  |  Volume : 66  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 308--315

Brain death revisited

Department of Neurosurgery, Apollo Main Hospital, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. K Ganapathy
Neurosurgeon Apollo Main Hospital, 21 Greames lane, Chennai - 600 006, Tamil Nadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0028-3886.227287

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Until six decades ago, death was considered to be a specific point in time, referring to the moment at which life ends. With the availability of ventilators, even determining when death has occurred is becoming difficult, as cessation of life functions is often not simultaneous across organ systems. With increasing accessibility to intensive care units (ICUs) even in Tier II and Tier III cities, and the government making it mandatory to notify brain death to facilitate cadaveric organ transplants, it behooves the neurosurgeon and neurologist to totally understand the minutiae of brain death. The author reflects on his personal experience in certifying brain death, over two decades, in a quaternary care hospital. Knowing the pathophysiology of brain stem dysfunction will help the clinician better understand the rationale of the mandatory clinical tests prescribed. The necessity for an early diagnosis and the pitfalls in the clinical diagnosis of brain death, the limitations of the so-called confirmatory tests, and the concerns and ethical issues will be highlighted. Review of the world literature demonstrates that there is no international consensus even on what constitutes brain death. An individual could be considered legally dead in one country but not in another!


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Online since 20th March '04
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