Monday, January 9, 2006

What's an Induced Coma?

Via Slate:
Doctors can try to reduce swelling by putting the patient in a coma. (Among the other available options: opening a hole in the side of the head to let out fluid, cutting out portions of the inflamed brain, or inducing hypothermia.) Inducing a coma is beneficial because a comatose brain uses less energy—and oxygen—than an awake and alert one. A brain that's been shut down in a coma can survive longer with a limited supply of oxygen. The coma also further reduces blood flow to the brain, which eases pressure in the cranium. Reduced blood flow does mean less oxygen gets to the brain, but since comatose brains don't need much oxygen this isn't a problem.
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