Confirmatory tests for the diagnosis of brain death in addition to clinical findings may shorten observation time required in some countries and may add certainty to the diagnosis under specific circumstances.
The current U.S. approach to determining death was developed in response to the emergence of technologies that made the traditional standard of cardiopulmonary death problematic. In 1968, an ad hoc committee at Harvard Medical School published an influential article arguing for extending the concept of death to patients in an “irreversible coma.“ 2). The emerging neurologic criteria for death defined it in terms of loss of the functional activity of the brain stem and cerebral cortex. Although clinical criteria were developed in the 1960s, it took more than a decade for consensus over a rationale for the definition to emerge. In 1981, the President's Commission for the Study of Ethical Problems in Medicine and Biomedical and Behavioral Research provided a philosophical definition of brain death in terms of the loss of the critical functions of the organism as a whole 3).
Shortly thereafter, the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws produced the Uniform Determination of Death Act, which has been adopted in 45 states and recognized in the rest through judicial opinion 4).
Changes in S100B protein, especially the levels of this dimer 48 hours after trauma can be used as marker to predict brain death. Alongside other known prognostic factors such as age, GCS and diameters of the pupils, however, this factor individually can not conclusive predict the patient's clinical course and incidence of brain death. However, it is suitable to use GCS, CT scan, clinical symptoms and biomarkers together for a perfect prediction of brain death 5).
The practicability of Gadolinium-enhanced magnetic resonance angiography to confirm cerebral circulatory arrest was assessed after the diagnosis of brain death in 15 patients using a 1.5 Tesla MRI scanner. In all 15 patients extracranial blood flow distal to the external carotid arteries was undisturbed. In 14 patients no contrast medium was noted within intracerebral vessels above the proximal level of the intracerebral arteries. In one patient more distal segments of the anterior and middle cerebral arteries (A3 and M3) were filled with contrast medium. Gadolinium-enhanced MRA may be considered conclusive evidence of cerebral circulatory arrest, when major intracranial vessels fail to fill with contrast medium while extracranial vessels show normal blood flow 6).
The level of knowledge of medical students at Centro Universitário Lusíada - UNILUS- Santos (SP), Brazil, regarding brain death and transplantation is limited, which could be the result of inadequate education during medical school 7).
In a editorial, Hibi et al., aimed to provide an outline of the world history of liver transplantation (LT), with a special focus on the innovation, development, and current controversies of living donor (LD) LT from East Asian and Western perspectives. In 1963, Starzl et al. (University of Colorado, U.S.) performed the world's first human LT for a 3-year-old child with biliary atresia. The donor was a 3-year-old patient who had suffered from brain death following neurosurgery. 8).