by Health Editorial Staff
a state of profound unconsciousness from which one does not awaken; It is not predictable how long the patient can resist (a few days or a few hours). Messina Denaro has expressed the will, with the living will, not to undergo any form of therapeutic fury to be kept alive
Matteo Messina Denaro, terminally ill with colon cancer and hospitalized in the inmate ward of the San Salvatore hospital in L’Aquila, in an irreversible coma since 22 September. What does it mean? How long can this condition last?
Meaning of irreversible coma
Coma is a clinical condition characterized by loss of consciousness, sensitivity and voluntary motility, while respiratory and cardiac activity remain.
Irreversible coma is the last stage of coma, from which one does not wake up. In this phase there is no longer any electrical activity of the brain, while cardiac activity persists. One of the signs of the irreversible condition is given by the pupils no longer reacting to light. A patient in an irreversible coma no longer has mastery of his vital functions.
How long can it last?
It should be remembered that Messina Denaro has given instructions, in his living will, regarding his desire not to undergo any aggressive treatment, for which the doctors have suspended treatments (except for therapies to alleviate suffering) and are only obliged to hydrate him, but not to resuscitate and feed it. It is not predictable how long the patient can resist, a few days or a few hours.
Difference with the vegetative state
The patient in an awake vegetative state, for example, can open and move his eyes, swallow, breathe independently, maintain the alternation of the sleep-wake cycle, but is not able to follow a visual stimulus with his gaze, utter words or perform simple verbal orders.
The vegetative state becomes persistent when the functional capabilities of the patient’s brain are seriously and permanently altered, the possibilities of recovering consciousness are very limited, especially as time passes.
The persistent vegetative state is often mistakenly confused with brain death, but these are different conditions.
What does brain death mean
Brain death occurs when, as required by the regulations in force, there is an irreversible cessation of all brain functions, which determines the absolute absence of autonomous breathing, consciousness and cerebral control of motor and vegetative functions (temperature , pressure etc.). The brain death of the patient must be ascertained compulsorily by law: doctors must do so using neurological criteria whenever they recognize the clinical conditions, as explained by the experts of the National transplant center.
In case of brain death, the electroencephalogram is flat, no motor function is recorded, the sleep cycle, self-awareness and pain perception are absent.
September 24, 2023 (modified September 24, 2023 | 3:24 pm)
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