Isolated medulla oblongata function after severe traumatic brain injury

E. F.M. Wijdicks, J. L.D. Atkinson, H. Okazaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The objective was to report the first pathologically confirmed case of partly functionally preserved medulla oblongata in a patient with catastrophic traumatic brain injury. A patient is described with epidural haematoma with normal breathing and blood pressure and a retained coughing reflex brought on only by catheter suctioning of the carina. Multiple contusions in the thalami and pons were found but the medulla oblongata was spared at necropsy. In conclusion, medulla oblongata function may persist despite rostrocaudal deterioration. This comatose state ("medulla man") closely mimics brain death.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)127-129
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2001


  • Apnoea test
  • Brain death
  • Head injury
  • Outcome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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