How is a brain death declared?

When does the brain die? For centuries it was considered that death occurred when the heart stopped beating and breathing ceased; However, the possibility of maintaining both functions by devices led doctors to contemplate a new criterion.

At the end of the 60's, a committee of the Harvard University he formulated the term "cerebral death" for the first time, arguing that the brain is the organ on which all the functions of the body depend. Therefore, a severe damage in its structure that produces the cessation of its activity should be considered synonymous with death.

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At the same time, with the development of transplants as a therapeutic alternative, the need arose to recover organs and tissues, which led to an advance in the diagnosis of brain death.

 

How is a brain death declared?

The diagnosis of brain death is carried out under strict medical criteria that each country establishes in its sanitary legislation.

In the Mexican case, the General Law of Health requires the confirmation of the total absence of electrical activity of the brain by means of the electrocardiogram, although there are other valid methods in various parts of the world, among them, the one of the "provoked potentials" and the Doppler Transcranial, the latter reflects the amount of blood that flows to the arteries of the brain.

One of the works of the Clinical Neurophysiology Unit of the Faculty of Medicine of the UNAM , located in the Hospital Juárez de México, is to confirm the diagnosis of brain death by means of all these procedures. It is important to note that only some national institutions have the equipment and trained personnel to do so.

However the doctor Ulises Aguilar , responsible for the unit said that in this space has both characteristics, because what is sought is "to make more efficient the assessment of the patient and promote organ donation," concluded the university doctor.


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