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Electroencephalographic Assessment of Coma

Husain, Aatif M.

Journal of Clinical Neurophysiology: June 2006 - Volume 23 - Issue 3 - p 208-220
doi: 10.1097/01.wnp.0000220094.60482.b5
Original Articles

Summary: Altered mental status ranging from confusion to deep unresponsiveness can be described as coma. Electroencephalography is an important tool in assessing comatose patients. Some EEG patterns are seen with lighter stages of coma and have a good prognosis, whereas others are seen in deep, often irreversible coma. These EEG patterns carry a much more grave prognosis. This paper discusses the various EEG features seen in coma, ranging from intermittent rhythmic delta activity to electrocerebral inactivity. A discussion regarding etiology and prognosis is presented after the EEG pattern is described in detail. Special EEG features, such as alpha coma, beta coma, spindle coma, etc., are discussed toward the end.

Department of Medicine (Neurology), Duke University Medical Center, and Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina, U.S.A.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Aatif M. Husain, MD, Box 3678, 202 Bell Building, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, U.S.A.; e-mail:

Copyright © 2006 American Clinical Neurophysiology Society