gms | German Medical Science

63rd Annual Meeting of the German Society of Neurosurgery (DGNC)
Joint Meeting with the Japanese Neurosurgical Society (JNS)

German Society of Neurosurgery (DGNC)

13 - 16 June 2012, Leipzig

Magnetic resonance imaging as confirmatory test in brain death after primary brain injury

Meeting Abstract

  • R. Firsching - Klinik für Neurochirurgie, Universitätsklinikum Magdeburg
  • S. Köppe - Klinik für Neurochirurgie, Universitätsklinikum Magdeburg
  • I. Bondar - Klinik für Neurochirurgie, Universitätsklinikum Magdeburg
  • M. Luchtmann - Klinik für Neurochirurgie, Universitätsklinikum Magdeburg
  • M. Skalej - Institut für Neuroradiologie, Universitätsklinikum Magdeburg

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Neurochirurgie. Japanische Gesellschaft für Neurochirurgie. 63. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Neurochirurgie (DGNC), Joint Meeting mit der Japanischen Gesellschaft für Neurochirurgie (JNS). Leipzig, 13.-16.06.2012. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2012. DocFR.13.03a

doi: 10.3205/12dgnc280, urn:nbn:de:0183-12dgnc2807

Published: June 4, 2012

© 2012 Firsching et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.



Objective: Several technical confirmatory tests for the diagnosis of brain death in addition to the observation period have been introduced in the past decades. Angiography as one of the most reliable tests has been excluded for legal reasons. As magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is capable to not only display morphological lesions, but also perfusion and function of nervous tissue with diffusion weighted images, it may be of practical value in the diagnosis of brain death

Methods: In 13 patients after head injury brain death was confirmed after coma, cranial nerve areflexia and apnea and electrocerebral silence had been registered. After the diagnosis had been established diffusion weighted MRI was obtained with a 1.5 Tesla scanner.

Results: In no patient any perfusion or diffusion within brain tissue could be identified

Conclusions: Diffusion weighted MRI can confirm the absence of diffusion within nervous tissue. If this finding could be reproduced in a study of larger numbers, diffusion weighted MRI may be regarded to serve as an additional confirmatory test of high reliability in the diagnosis of brain death to add certainty to the finding of loss of function of the entire brain.