Varelas, P.N., Rehman, M., Abdelhak, T. et al. Single Brain Death Examination Is Equivalent to Dual Brain Death Examinations. Neurocrit Care 15, 547–553 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12028-011-9561-4
Although the new Practice Parameters for brain death support a single examination, there is paucity of data comparing its impact to dual brain death (DBD) examinations.
We reviewed all brain deaths in our hospital over a 39-month period and compared the optional single brain death (SBD) exam requiring an apnea and a mandatory confirmatory blood flow test to the DBD for organ function at the time of death, rate of donation, and cost.
Thirty-six patients had a SBD and 59 DBD exams, without any of them regaining neurological functioning. There was no difference in serum electrolytes (except for higher Na+ and Cl− in the SBD group), blood urea nitrogen, creatinine, blood gases, incidence of diabetes insipidus, apnea completion, consent for donation, and organs recovered and transplanted. During the second BD exam, 35% of patients with DBD were on higher dose of vasopressors, but had lower systolic blood pressure (P = 0.046). For DBD patients, the mean interval between the two exams was 14.4 h, which contributed to a higher cost of $43,707.67 compared to SBD. There was a trend for increased consent rates (adjusted for age, race, and type of exam) when patients were declared by the neurointensivist service following a strict family approach protocol (P = 0.06).
SBD exam is easier, faster to perform, with no brain function recovery and leads to similar donation rates, equivalent or better organ function status at the time of BD and lower cost than conventional DBD exams.