Evaluation and prognostication in coma

Electroencephalogr Clin Neurophysiol. 1998 Feb;106(2):149-55. doi: 10.1016/s0013-4694(97)00118-1.


Electroencephalography (EEG) and evoked potential (EP) studies are neurophysiologic techniques which provide information on physiological state and response to therapy, and may aid diagnosis and prognosis. Serial studies or continuous monitoring may enable changes to be detected prior to irreversible deterioration in the patient's condition. Current computer technology allows simultaneous display and correlation of electrophysiologic parameters, cardiovascular state and ICP. Continuous EEG monitoring in the ICU has been shown to have a decisive or contributing impact on medical decision making in more than three-quarters of patients. In addition, continuous EEG monitoring has revealed previously unsuspected non-convulsive seizures in two-thirds of patients. Somatosensory and auditory EPs can provide useful prognostic information in coma patients, however, these tests are etiologically non-specific and must be carefully integrated into the clinical situation. Motor EPs offer a potentially useful tool for evaluating motor system abnormalities in the ICU. Thus, neurophysiologic tests are established monitoring tools in the neurological intensive care unit.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Coma / diagnosis*
  • Coma / physiopathology*
  • Critical Care
  • Electroencephalography*
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology
  • Humans
  • Prognosis