A guide to Sharon's medical condition

January 8, 2006 00:03
2 minute read.

What procedure was followed in the three brain operations carried out so far on Sharon? For the first operation, neurosurgeons drilled a hole about six centimeters in diameter over the area of the brain where the bleeding occurred (as viewed with imaging technology). An incision was made in the tissue covering the brain. The operation consisted of inserting suction equipment to remove the blood that had leaked out into the tissue. Electric cauterization equipment was used to close the tiny blood vessels that had hemorrhaged. Then another CT was performed in a matter of minutes to see whether all the bleeding had been halted. During the successive operations, the process was repeated, but new holes did not need to be drilled because the bleeding was in the same area. Is the prime minister suffering from any pain? As far as modern medicine can know, no patient who is put into an induced deep coma and respirated feels any pain. Why are doctors so concerned about an increase in intracranial pressure? The brain is encased in the skull, thus when it suffers inflammation and edema (swelling due to blood and other liquids), it expands. It is like a balloon inflating within a box. Pressure of the various parts of the brain against the bony skull can cause nerve cells to die. When and how will it be possible to find out how much brain damage Sharon has suffered? When the Hadassah team becomes certain that the bleeding has been permanently stopped and that intracranial pressure remains normal, it can reduce the amount of anesthesia drugs he has been given to keep him in an induced coma. The coma was induced to help bring down the edema and eliminate the patient's suffering. Some of the anesthetic drugs used have a short half-life and are quickly eliminated from the body, even within minutes, but others can take as long as three days to lose their effect. Thus the "wake up" is gradual. As the patient - it is hoped - resumes consciousness, doctors can gradually conduct electrical and other tests to determine the functionality of various parts of the brain. Are there any indications of normal brain function that can be assessed even while the prime minister is in an induced coma? If the pupils of the eyes react to light by contracting and then expanding when the light is removed - as has occurred with Sharon - the brain stem (which controls respiration and other autonomic functions) is believed to be undamaged.

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