This results from total cessation of cerebral function while somatic function is maintained by artificial means and the heart continues to pump. It is legally and ethically equivalent to cardiorespiratory death. The pt is unresponsive to all forms of stimulation (widespread cortical destruction), brainstem reflexes are absent (global brainstem damage), and there is complete apnea (destruction of the medulla). Demonstration of apnea requires that the PCO2 be high enough to stimulate respiration, while PO2 and blood pressure are maintained. EEG is isoelectric at high gain. The absence of deep tendon reflexes is not required because the spinal cord may remain functional. Special care must be taken to exclude drug toxicity and hypothermia prior to making a diagnosis of brain death. Diagnosis should be made only if the state persists for some agreed-upon period, usually 6–24 h; the diagnosis should be delayed for at least 24 h if the cause is unknown or due to cardiac arrest.

There's more to see -- the rest of this topic is available only to subscribers.