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Coma usmf

  1. 1. COMA AND RELATED DISORDERS OF CONSCIOUSNESS Prof. M. Gavriliuc, Department of Neurology, Medical and Pharmaceutical Nicolae Testemitsanu State University, Republic of Moldova
  3. 3. Acute Disturbances of Consciousness
  4. 4. Description of States of Normal and Impaired Consciousness Normal Consciousness. This is the condition of the normal person when awake. In this state the individual is fully responsive to stimuli and indicates by his behavior and speech the same awareness of self and environment as that of the examiner. This normal state may fluctuate during the course of the day from one of keen alertness or deep concentration with a marked constriction of the field of attention to one of mild general inattentiveness. From this state, the normal individual can be brought immediately to a state of full alertness and function.
  5. 5. Description of States of Normal and Impaired Consciousness Inattention and Confusion . In these conditions the patient does not take into account all elements of his immediate environment. Patient denotes an inability to think with customary speed and clarity, usually marked by some degree of inattentiveness and disorientation. Confusion most often results from a process that influences the brain globally such as a toxic or metabolic disturbance or a dementia.
  6. 6. Description of States of Normal and Impaired Consciousness Drowsiness and Stupor. Drowsiness denotes an inability to sustain a wakeful state without external stimuli. Inattentiveness and mild confusion are the rule, both improving with arousal. The lids droop without closing completely; there may be snoring, the jaw and limb muscles are slack, and the limbs are relaxed. This state is indistinguishable from light sleep, with slow arousal elicited by speaking to the patient or applying a tactile stimulus. Stupor describes a patient who can be roused only by vigorous and repeated stimuli, at which time he opens his eyes, looks at the examiner, and does not appear to be unconscious; response to spoken commands is either absent or slow and inadequate.
  7. 7. Coma , from the Greek word "koma," meaning deep sleep, is a state of extreme unresponsiveness, in which an individual exhibits no voluntary movement or behavior. Some historians believe that the description of Jesus resurrecting his friend Lazarus from the dead may represent one of the first reports of an individual in coma. In addition, more recent descriptions, documented approximately 150 years ago, discuss the diagnosis of “apparent death” as a possible synonym for “coma” (Kiss 1991).
  8. 8. COMA. The patient who appears to be asleep and is at the same time incapable of being aroused by external stimuli or inner needs is in a state of coma. There are variations in the degree of coma; in its deepest stages, no reaction of any kind is obtainable: corneal, pupillary, pharyngeal, tendon, and plantar reflexes are all absent, and tone in the limb muscles is diminished. With lesser degrees of coma, pupillary reactions, reflex ocular movements, and corneal and other brainstem reflexes are preserved in varying degree, and muscle tone in the limbs may be increased.
  9. 9. Physiology and Morbid Anatomy of Coma Coma-producing alterations in the brain are of three main types: 1. one clearly morphologic, consisting either of discrete paramedial lesions in the upper brainstem and lower diencephalon, 2. or of more widespread changes throughout the hemispheres, thus interrupting the flow of signals to the cerebral cortex from the central generators of the brainstem activating system. The other type is metabolic or submicroscopic, resulting in suppression of neuronal activity, usually concurrently in the reticular activating system and in cortical neurons. 1+2
  10. 10. CLINICAL APPROACH TO THE COMATOSE PATIENT COMA is not a disease per se but is always a symptomatic expression of an underlying disease. Sometimes the underlying disorder is perfectly obvious, as with severe cranial trauma. All too often, however, the patient is brought to the hospital in a state of coma and little pertinent medical information is immediately available. The clinical problem must then be scrutinized from several angles.
  11. 11. CLINICAL APPROACH TO THE COMATOSE PATIENT Alterations in vital signs - temperature, pulse, respiratory rate, and blood pressure - are important aids in diagnosis. Fever is most often due to a systemic infection such as pneumonia or to bacterial meningitis. An excessively high body temperature (42 or 43°C) associated with dry skin should arouse the suspicion of heat stroke or anticholinergic drug toxicity. Fever should not be ascribed to a brain lesion that has disturbed the temperatureregulating centers - a very rare occurrence. Hypothermia is frequently observed in patients with alcoholic or barbiturate intoxication, drowning, exposure to cold, peripheral circulatory failure, and myxedema.
  12. 12. CLINICAL APPROACH TO THE COMATOSE PATIENT Slow breathing points to opiate or barbiturate intoxication and occasionally to hypothyroidism, where-as deep, rapid breathing should suggest the presence of pneumonia, diabetic or uremic acidosis (Kussmaul respiration), pulmonary edema, or the less common occurrence of an intracranial disease that causes central neurogenic hyperventilation. The rapid breathing of pneumonia is often accompanied by an expiratory grunt, cyanosis, and fever. Diseases that elevate intracranial pressure or damage the brain often cause slow, irregular respiration or periodic CSR. The various disordered patterns of breathing and their clinical significance are described further on.
  14. 14. CLINICAL APPROACH TO THE COMATOSE PATIENT The pulse rate, if exceptionally slow, should suggest heart block, or - if combined with periodic breathing and hypertension - an increase in intracranial pressure. Marked hypertension is observed in patients with cerebral hemorrhage and hypertensive encephalopathy and, at times, in those with greatly increased intracranial pressure. Hypotension is the usual finding in states of depressed consciousness that are due to diabetes, alcohol or barbiturate intoxication, internal hemorrhage, myocardial infarction, dissecting aortic aneurysm, septicemia, Addison disease, or massive brain trauma.
  15. 15. CLINICAL APPROACH TO THE COMATOSE PATIENT Inspection of the skin. Cyanosis of the lips and nail beds inadequate oxygenation. Cherry-red coloration - carbon monoxide poisoning. Multiple bruises - cranial fracture and intracranial trauma. Telangiectases and hyperemia of the face and conjunctivae – alcoholism. Marked pallor - internal hemorrhage. A maculohemorrhagic rash - meningococcal infection, staphylococcal endocarditis, typhus, or Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Excessive sweating - hypoglycemia or shock. Excessively dry skin - diabetic acidosis, uremia, or drug overdose with anticholinergic effect.
  16. 16. CLINICAL APPROACH TO THE COMATOSE PATIENT The odor of the breath may provide a clue to the etiology of coma. The odor of alcohol is easily recognized (except for vodka, which is odorless). The spoiled-fruit odor of diabetic coma, the uriniferous odor of uremia, the musty fetor of hepatic coma, and the burnt almond odor of cyanide poisoning are distinctive enough to be identified by physicians who possess a keen sense of smell.
  17. 17. Neurologic Examination of the Stuporous or Comatos Patient The predominant postures of the limbs and body, the presence or absence of spontaneous movements, the position of the head and eyes, and the rate, depth, and rhythm of respiration should be noted.
  18. 18. Neurologic Examination of the Stuporous or Comatos Patient The state of responsiveness is then estimated by noting the patient's reaction to calling his name, to simple commands, or to noxious stimuli such as supraorbital or sternal pressure, pinching the side of the neck or inner parts of the arms or thighs, or applying pressure to the knuckles. By grading these stimuli, one may roughly estimate both the degree of unresponsiveness and changes from hour to hour.
  19. 19. Neurologic Examination of the Stuporous or Comatos Patient Vocalization may persist in stupor and is the first response to be lost as coma appears. Grimacing and deft avoidance movements of the stimulated parts are preserved in light coma; their presence substantiates the integrity of corticobulbar and corticospinal tracts. Yawning and shifting of body positions indicate a minimal degree of unresponsiveness.
  20. 20. Glasgow Coma Score The GCS is scored between 3 and 15, 3 being the worst, and 15 the best. It is composed of three parameters : Best Eye Response, Best Verbal Response, Best Motor Response, as given below : Best Eye Response. (4) Best Verbal Response. (5) E1.No eye opening. V1. No verbal response E2. Eye opening to pain. V2. Incomprehensible sounds. E3. Eye opening to verbal command. V3. Inappropriate words. E4. Eyes open spontaneously. V4. Confused V5. Orientated Best Motor Response. (6) M1. No motor response. M2. Extension to pain. M3. Flexion to pain. M4. Withdrawal from pain. M5.Localising pain. M6. Obeys Commands. Note that the phrase 'GCS of 11' is essentially meaningless, and it is important to break the figure down into its components, such as E3V3M5 = GCS 11. A Coma Score of 13 or higher correlates with a mild brain injury, 9 to 12 is a moderate injury and 8 or less a severe brain injury. Teasdale G., Jennett B., LANCET (ii) 81-83, 1974.
  21. 21. COMA Examination of the cranial nerves and brainstem reflexes has localizing value. Localization can provide insight into pathophysiology as there are regional differences in susceptibility to various pathologies.
  22. 22. The Pupillary Reactions A unilaterally enlarged pupil (> 5 mm diameter) is the most important indicator of progressive horizontal displacement of the midbrain or medial temporal lobe. The earliest sign of compression is usually a loss of light reaction alone; with continued compression, the pupil may become oval or pearshaped. With massive midbrain lesions, both pupils dilate to more than 5 mm and become unreactive to light; contrariwise, normal pupillary size, symmetry, and shape and the preservation of light reflexes indicate integrity of midbrain structures. Pontine tegmental lesions cause extremely miotic pupils (<1 mm) with only a slight reaction to strong light; this is characteristic of the early phase of pontine hemorrhage. Ciliospinal pupillary dilatation is also lost in brainstem lesions A Horner syndrome (miosis, ptosis, apparent enophthalmos, and reduced sweating) may be observed homolateral to a one-sided lesion of the brainstem or hypothalamus or to a dissecting aneurysm of the internal carotid artery.
  23. 23. Oculocephalic reflexes (doll's-eye movements) are elicited by briskly turning or tilting the head and consist of conjugate movement of the eyes in the opposite direction, are not present in the normal alert person. Elicitation of these reflexes in a comatose patient provides two pieces of information: one, evidence of intactness of the ocular motor nerves and of the midbrain and pontine tegmental structures that integrate ocular movements, and two, loss of cortical inhibition that normally holds these movements in check.
  24. 24. Oculocephalic reflexes (doll's-eye movements) Vertical globe deviation with neck flexion and extension can be used to uncover upper brainstem lesions that cause coma. Similarly, lid elevation should occur with upward eye movement during neck flexion if the upper midbrain is undamaged.
  25. 25. Oculocephalic reflexes (doll's-eye movements) Although the failure to elicit eye movements implies brainstem dysfunction, sedative or anticonvulsant intoxication serious enough to cause coma may symmetrically obliterate the brainstem mechanisms for oculocephalic reactions and, in extreme cases, even the oculovestibular responses, described below. Asymmetry in elicited eye movements, however, remains a dependable sign of focal brainstem disease.
  26. 26. CORNEAL REFLEX Often the corneal reflexes disappear in the deep stages of coma of any cause, as brainstem function is depressed. Unilateral loss of the corneal reflex denotes an ipsilateral pontine lesion but may also occur contralateral to a large hemispheral lesion and be misinterpreted as an ipsilateral brainstem lesion. Lower brainstem reflexes are seldom helpful in the analysis of coma.
  27. 27. Signs of Increased Intracranial Pressure A history of headache before the onset of coma, recurrent vomiting, and subhyaloid retinal hemorrhages are the best immediate clues to the presence of increased intracranial pressure, usually from one of the types of cerebral hemorrhage. Papilledema develops within 12 to 24 h in cases of brain trauma and hemorrhage, but, if pronounced, it usually signifies brain tumor or abscess, i.e., a lesion of longer duration. Increased intracranial pressure produces coma by impeding global cerebral blood flow.
  28. 28. Laboratory Procedures in Comatos Patient In patients with evidence or even a suspicion of increased intracranial pressure, a CT scan or MRI should be obtained as a primary procedure.
  29. 29. Laboratory Procedures in Comatos Patient If poisoning is suspected, aspiration and analysis of the gastric contents is sometimes helpful, but greater reliance should be placed on chromatographic analysis of the blood and urine. Accurate means are available for measuring the blood concentrations of phenytoin, barbiturates, alcohol, and a wide range of other toxic substances.
  30. 30. Laboratory Procedures in Comatos Patient Lumbar puncture, although carrying a certain risk of promoting further herniation, is nevertheless necessary in some instances to rule out bacterial meningitis, encephalitis, or a primary subarachnoid hemorrhage that is not visible by CT, although such a patient would not likely be comatose.
  31. 31. Laboratory Procedures in Comatos Patient Urine of low specific gravity and high protein content is found in uremia. Urine of high specific gravity, glycosuria, and acetonuria are found almost invariably in diabetic coma. Blood counts are made, and in malarial districts a blood smear is examined for parasites. Neutrophilic leukocytosis occurs in bacterial infections and also with brain hemorrhage and infarction, although the elevation in the latter conditions rarely exceeds 12,000 WBC/mm3. Venous blood should be examined for glucose, urea, carbon dioxide, bicarbonate, ammonium, sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, and SGOT (serum glutamic oxaloacetic transaminase) in appropriate cases.
  32. 32. Classification of Coma and Differential Diagnosis I. Diseases that cause no focal or lateralizing neurologic signs, usually with normal brainstem functions. CT scan and cellular content of the CSF are normal. A. Intoxications: alcohol, barbiturates and other sedative drugs, opiates, etc. B. Metabolic disturbances: anoxia, diabetic acidosis, uremia, hepatic coma, hypoglycemia, addisonian crisis, profound nutritional deficiency. C. Severe systemic infections: pneumonia, typhoid fever, malaria, septicemia, Waterhouse-Friderichsen syndrome. D. Circulatory collapse (shock) from any cause.
  33. 33. Classification of Coma and Differential Diagnosis I. Diseases that cause no focal or lateralizing neurologic signs, usually with normal brainstem functions. CT scan and cellular content of the CSF are normal. E. Postseizure states. F. Hypertensive encephalopathy and eclampsia. G. Hyperthermia or hypothermia. H. Concussion. I. Idiopathic recurring stupor and coma. J. Acute hydrocephalus.
  34. 34. Classification of Coma and Differential Diagnosis II. Diseases that cause meningeal irritation with or without fever, with an excess of WBCs or RBCs in the CSF, usually without focal or lateralizing cerebral or brainstem signs. Computed tomography or MRI, which preferably should precede lumbar puncture, may be normal or abnormal. A. Subarachnoid hemorrhage from ruptured aneurysm, arteriovenous malformation, occasionally trauma. B. Acute bacterial meningitis. C. Some forms of viral encephalitis.
  35. 35. Classification of Coma and Differential Diagnosis III. Diseases that cause focal brainstem or lateralizing cerebral signs, with or without changes in the CSF. Computed tomography and MRI are usually abnormal. A. B. C. D. Hemispheral hemorrhage or infarction. Brainstem infarction due to thrombosis or embolism. Brain abscess, subdural empyema. Epidural and subdural hemorrhage and brain contusion. E. Brain tumor. F. Miscellaneous: cortical vein thrombosis, some forms of viral encephalitis, focal embolic encephalomalacia due to bacterial endocarditis, acute hemorrhagic leukoencephalitis, disseminated (postinfectious) encephalomyelitis, and others.
  36. 36. Coma Due to Mass Lesions and Herniations
  37. 37. The Persistent Vegetative State Patients who survived for indefinite periods without regaining any meaningful mental function. For the first week or two after the cerebral injury, these patients are in a state of deep coma. Then they begin to open their eyes, at first in response to painful stimuli and later spontaneously and for increasingly prolonged periods. The patient may blink in response to threat or to light and intermittently the eyes move from side to side, seemingly following objects or fixating momentarily on the physician or a family member and giving the erroneous impression of recognition. However, the patient remains inattentive, does not speak, and shows no signs of awareness of the environment or inner need; responsiveness is limited to primitive postural and reflex movements of the limbs. In brief, there is arousal or wakefulness, and alternating arousalnonarousal cycles are established, but the patient regains neither awareness nor purposeful behavior of any kind.
  38. 38. Locked-in Syndrome, and Akinetic Mutism A patient is fully conscious and able to see but unable to feel, or move because of brainstem damage. Locked-in patients can often move their eyes to stimuli and move their eyes voluntarily if only upwards.
  39. 39. Brain Death A state of coma in which the brain was irreversibly damaged and had ceased to function but in which pulmonary and cardiac function could still be maintained by artificial means. The central considerations in the diagnosis of brain death are: 1. absence of cerebral functions (unreceptivity and unresponsivity); 2. absence of brainstem functions, including spontaneous respiration; and 3. irreversibility of the state. To these is usually added evidence of catastrophic brain disease (trauma, cardiac arrest, cerebral hemorrhage, etc.).
  40. 40. Care of the Comatose Patient 1. The management of shock, if it is present, takes precedence over all other diagnostic and therapeutic measures. 2. Shallow and irregular respirations, stertorous breathing (indicating obstruction to inspiration), and cyanosis require the establishment of a clear airway and delivery of oxygen. The patient should initially be placed in a lateral position so that secretions and vomitus do not enter the tracheobronchial tree. Secretions should be removed by suctioning as soon as they accumulate; otherwise they will lead to atelectasis and bronchopneumonia. Arterial blood gases should be measured and further observed by monitoring of oxygen saturation. A patient's inability to protect against aspiration and the presence of either hypoxia or hypoventilation dictates the use of endotracheal intubation and a positive-pressure respirator.
  41. 41. Care of the Comatose Patient 1. The management of shock, if it is present, takes precedence over all other diagnostic and therapeutic measures. 2. Shallow and irregular respirations, stertorous breathing (indicating obstruction to inspiration), and cyanosis require the establishment of a clear airway and delivery of oxygen. The patient should initially be placed in a lateral position so that secretions and vomitus do not enter the tracheobronchial tree. Secretions should be removed by suctioning as soon as they accumulate; otherwise they will lead to atelectasis and bronchopneumonia. Arterial blood gases should be measured and further observed by monitoring of oxygen saturation. A patient's inability to protect against aspiration and the presence of either hypoxia or hypoventilation dictates the use of endotracheal intubation and a positive-pressure respirator.
  42. 42. Care of the Comatose Patient 3. Concomitantly, an intravenous line is established and blood samples are drawn for determination of glucose, drugs, and electrolytes and for tests of liver and kidney function. Naloxone, 0.5 mg, should be given intravenously if a narcotic overdose is a possibility. Hypoglycemia that has produced stupor or coma demands the infusion of 25 to 50 mL of 50% glucose, followed by a 5% infusion; this must be supplemented with thiamine. 4. With the development of elevated intracranial pressure, mannitol, 25 to 50 g in a 20% solution, should be given intravenously over 10 to 20 min and hyperventilation instituted if deterioration from a mass lesion occurs, as judged by pupillary enlargement or deepening coma. Repeated CT scanning allows the physician to follow the size of the lesion and degree of localized edema and to detect herniations of cerebral tissue. With massive cerebral lesions, it may be appropriate to place a pressure-measuring device in the cranium.
  43. 43. Care of the Comatose Patient 5. A lumbar puncture should be performed if meningitis or subarachnoid hemorrhage is suspected, keeping in mind the risks of this procedure and the means of dealing with them. A CT scan may have disclosed a subarachnoid hemorrhage, in which case no lumbar puncture is necessary. 6. Convulsions should be controlled by special measure. 7. As indicated above, gastric aspiration and lavage with normal saline may be useful in some instances of coma due to drug ingestion. Salicylates, opiates, and anticholinergic drugs (tricyclic antidepressants, phenothiazines, scopolamine), all of which induce gastric atony, may be recovered many hours after ingestion. Caustic materials should not be lavaged because of the danger of perforation.
  44. 44. Care of the Comatose Patient 8. The temperature-regulating mechanisms may be disturbed, and extreme hypothermia, hyperthermia, or poikilothermia may occur. In severe hyperthermia, evaporative-cooling measures are indicated in addition to antipyretics. 9. The bladder should not be permitted to become distended; if the patient does not void, decompression should be carried out with an indwelling catheter. Needless to say, the patient should not be permitted to lie in a wet or soiled bed.
  45. 45. Care of the Comatose Patient 10. Diseases of the CNS may disrupt the control of water, glucose, and sodium. The unconscious patient can no longer adjust the intake of food and fluids by hunger and thirst. Both salt-losing and salt-retaining syndromes have been described with brain disease. Water intoxication and severe hyponatremia may of themselves prove damaging. If coma is prolonged, the insertion of a gastric tube will ease the problems of feeding the patient and maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance. Otherwise, approximately 35 mL/kg of isotonic fluid should be administered per 24 h (5% dextrose in 0.45% saline with potassium supplementation unless there is brain edema, in which case isotonic normal saline is preferable).
  46. 46. Care of the Comatose Patient 11. Aspiration pneumonia is avoided by prevention of vomiting (gastric tube and endotracheal intubation), proper positioning of the patient, and restriction of oral fluids. Should aspiration pneumonia occur, it requires treatment with appropriate antibiotics, and aggressive pulmonary physical therapy. 12. Leg vein thrombosis - a common occurrence in comatose and hemiplegic patients - often does not manifest itself by obvious clinical signs. An attempt may be made to prevent it by the subcutaneous administration of heparin, 5000 units q 12 h, and by the use of intermittent pneumatic compression boots.
  47. 47. Care of the Comatose Patient 13. If the patient is capable of moving, suitable restraints should be used to prevent falling out of bed and self-injury from convulsions. 14. Regular conjunctival lubrication and oral cleansing should be instituted. Prognosis of Coma As a general rule, recovery from metabolic and toxic causes of coma is far better than from anoxic coma, with head injury occupying an intermediate prognostic position. If there are no pupillary, corneal, or oculovestibular responses within several hours of the onset of coma, the chances of regaining independent function are practically nil (see Levy et al). Other unfavorable prognostic signs are absence of corneal reflexes and eye-opening responses and atonia of the limbs at 1 and 3 days after the onset of coma and absence of the cortical component of the somatosensory evoked responses on both sides.
  48. 48. REFERENCES PLUM F, POSNER JB: Diagnosis of Stupor and Coma, 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Davis, 1980. ADAMS R, VICTOR M: Principles of Neurology, New York McGraw-Hill, 1985. CARONNA JJ, SIMON RP: The comatose patient: A diagnostic approach and treatment. Int Anesthesiol Clin 17(2/3):3, 1979. WEINER HL, LEVITT LP: Neurology. Fifth edition. Williams & Wilkins, 1998. MAIESE K: Metabolic Coma. Neurobase. Third 1999 Edition.
  49. 49. THE END QUESTIONS ???