Severe anoxia with and without concomitant brain atrophy and neuropsychological impairments

J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 1995 Sep;1(5):501-9. doi: 10.1017/s135561770000059x.


Significant anoxia may cause a variety of neuropathologic changes as well as cognitive deficits. We have recently seen 3 patients who have suffered severe anoxic episodes all with initial Glasgow Coma Scores (GCS) of 3 with sustained coma for 10-14 d. All 3 patients had extended hospitalizations and rehabilitation therapy. A neuropsychological test battery was administered and volumetric analyses of MRI scans were carried out in each case at least 6 mo postinjury. Two of the patients display distinct residual cognitive and neuropathologic changes while 1 patient made a remarkable recovery without evidence of significant morphological abnormality. These three cases demonstrate, that even with similar admission GCS, the outcome is variable and the degree of neuropsychological impairment appears to match the degree of morphologic abnormalities demonstrated by quantitative MR image analysis. An important finding of this study is that even though subjects with an anoxic insult exhibit severe cognitive and memory impairments along with concomitant morphologic changes, their attention/concentration abilities appear to be preserved. MR morphometry provides an excellent means by which neural structural changes can be quantified and compared to neuropsychological and behavioral outcomes.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Atrophy
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / diagnosis*
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / psychology
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / rehabilitation
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Glasgow Coma Scale
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia, Brain / diagnosis*
  • Hypoxia, Brain / psychology
  • Hypoxia, Brain / rehabilitation
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests / statistics & numerical data*