OBJECTIVES: Brain death determination often requires ancillary studies when clinical determination cannot be fully or safely completed. We aimed to analyze the results of ancillary studies, the factors associated with ancillary study performance, and the changes over time in number of studies performed at an academic health system. DESIGN: Retrospective cohort. SETTING: Multihospital academic health system. PATIENTS: Consecutive adult patients declared brain dead between 2010 and 2020. INTERVENTIONS: None. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Of 140 brain death patients, ancillary studies were performed in 84 (60%). The false negative rate of all ancillary studies was 4% (5% of transcranial Doppler ultrasounds, 4% of nuclear studies, 0% of electroencephalograms, and 17% of CT angiography). In univariate analysis, ancillary study use was associated with female sex (odds ratio, 2.4; 95% CI, 1.21-5.01; p = 0.013) and the etiology of brain death being hypoxic-ischemic brain injury (odds ratio, 2.9; 95% CI, 1.43-5.88; p = 0.003), nontraumatic intracranial hemorrhage (odds ratio, 0.45; 95% CI, 0.21-0.96; p = 0.039), or traumatic brain injury (odds ratio, 0.22; 95% CI, 0.04-0.8; p = 0.031). In multivariable analysis, female sex (odds ratio, 5.7; 95% CI, 2.56-15.86; p = 0.004), the etiology of brain death being hypoxic-ischemic brain injury (odds ratio, 3.2; 95% CI, 1.3-8.8; p = 0.015), and the neurologists performing brain death declaration (odds ratio, 0.08; 95% CI, 0.004-0.64; p = 0.034) were factors independently associated with use of ancillary studies. Over the study period, the total number of ancillary studies performed each year did not significantly change; however, the number of electroencephalograms significantly decreased with time (odds ratio per 1-yr increase, 0.67; 95% CI, 0.49-0.90; p = 0.014). CONCLUSIONS: A large number of ancillary studies were performed despite a clinical determination of brain death; patients with hypoxic-ischemic brain injury are more likely to undergo ancillary studies for brain death determination, and neurologists were less likely to use ancillary studies for brain death. Recently, the use of electroencephalograms for brain death determination has decreased, likely reflecting significant concerns regarding its validity and reliability.
- ancillary study
- apnea test
- brain death
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine