Radionuclide evaluation of brain death in the post-McMath era

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The pronouncement of death is a determination of paramount social, legal, and ethical import. The novel construct of "brain death" was introduced 50 years ago, yet there persist gaps in understanding regarding this diagnosis on the part of medical caregivers and families. The tragic, much-publicized case of Jahi McMath typifies potential problems that can be encountered with this diagnosis and serves as an effective point of departure for discussion. This article recapitulates the historical development of brain death and the evolution of scintigraphic examinations as ancillary or confirmatory studies, emphasizing updated clinical and imaging practice guidelines and the current role of scintigraphy. The limitations of clinical and radionuclide studies are then reviewed. Finally, the article examines whether radionuclide examinations might be able to play an expanded role in the determination of brain death by improving accuracy and facilitating effective communication with family members.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1560-1568
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Nuclear Medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Brain death
  • Brain perfusion
  • Cerebral blood flow
  • Coma
  • Tc-ECD
  • Tc-HMPAO

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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