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The need for a reliable neurological evaluation in severely brain-injured patients conflicts with sedation, which is routinely administered. Helbok and colleagues prospectively evaluated in a small cohort of 20 sedated severely brain-injured patients the effects of a wakeup test on intracranial pressure (ICP), brain tissue oxygen tension and brain metabolism. The test has been considered potentially risky on 34% of the study days. When the test is performed, ICP and cerebral perfusion pressure increase, usually slightly, except in a subgroup of patients with lower cerebral compliance where marked ICP and cerebral perfusion pressure changes were recorded. In this cohort, the information gained with the wake-up test has been negligible. Given the current little knowledge about the benefits of interruption of continuous sedation in brain-injured patients, it is extremely important to adopt multiple monitoring modalities in neurocritical care in order to escape wake-up tests in those patients who will potentially be harmed by this procedure. Once the clinical condition will improve, sedation needs to be tapered and suspended as soon as possible.

Original publication




Journal article


Crit Care

Publication Date





Brain, Brain Injuries, Deep Sedation, Female, Humans, Intracranial Pressure, Male, Neurologic Examination