Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Diagnosis and management of brain death.

Br Med J 1979; 1 doi: (Published 24 February 1979) Cite this as: Br Med J 1979;1:525
  1. M Kaste,
  2. M Hillbom,
  3. J Palo


    Finland was the first country in which brain death was legally accepted. Since 1975, 37 cases of brain death had been recorded in a university hospital in Finland, and these were reviewed. The cause for brain death was intracranial bleeding in 32 cases, other cerebrovascular disorder in two, and intracranial neoplasm in three. In 21 brain death was diagnosed clinically. In 16 cases confirmatory investigations (electroencephalography, cerebral angiography) were needed. After brain death had been established artificial support was withdrawn in 15 patients and organ transplantation was carried out in 10. In 12 patients, however, diagnosis of brain death did not influence management, though the heart stopped beating on average 25 hours after diagnosis. The Finnish criteria for brain death seem to be reliable and suitable for routine use.