Chapter

Pathophysiology of Signs and Symptoms of Coma

Jerome B. Posner, Clifford B. Saper, Nicholas D. Schiff and Fred Plum

in Plum and Posner's Diagnosis of Stupor and Coma

Fourth edition

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print February 2008 | ISBN: 9780195321319
Published online April 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199322954 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/med/9780195321319.003.0010

Series: Contemporary Neurology Series

Pathophysiology of Signs and Symptoms of Coma

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Impaired consciousness is among the most difficult and dramatic of clinical problems. The ancient Greeks knew that normal consciousness depends on an intact brain, and that impaired consciousness signifies brain failure. The brain tolerates only limited physical or metabolic injury, so that impaired consciousness is often a sign of impending irreparable damage to the brain. Stupor and coma imply advanced brain failure, just as, for example, uremia means renal failure, and the longer such brain failure lasts, the narrower the margin between recovery and the development of permanent neurologic injury. The limited time for action and the multiplicity of potential causes of brain failure challenge the physician and frighten both the physician and the family; only the patient escapes anxiety.

Chapter.  19170 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Neurology

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