How can hypoxic brain damage be diagnosed

Hypoxic brain damage in children

Causes & Symptoms

is hypoxic brain damage?

Within a few minutes, a lack of oxygen in the brain can lead to severe disorders of the brain functions.
Basically, brain damage caused by a lack of oxygen cannot be reversed. However, despite hypoxic brain damage, the patient's condition may improve. This is mainly due to two mechanisms:
  • The actual brain damage is initially surrounded by swelling. Areas of the brain that are only swollen resume their function when they have recovered.
  • The brain reorganizes itself during the healing process. The damage persists, but the brain may find ways to replace the failed functions with new connections.

Hypoxic brain damage: causes

A wide variety of causes can trigger a lack of oxygen in the brain.
Before and during childbirth, complications can occur that can lead to brain damage from a lack of oxygen. These include, among other things, an insufficient supply of oxygen, premature placental detachment or a pinched umbilical cord.
Small children are primarily at risk from external influences.
  • Drowning or strangulation accidents
  • Poisoning
  • traffic accidents
  • Cerebral hemorrhage
  • Severe allergic reactions
  • Cardiac arrest

Symptoms: These effects are caused by hypoxic brain damage

How severe the hypoxic brain damage is depends on several factors. These include the duration of the oxygen deficiency, the severity of the circulatory collapse and the ambient temperature.
If the duration of the lack of oxygen has been relatively short, the first reactions can soon occur. If the patient wakes up, coordination, perception and memory disorders can occur. The disturbances can regress completely after a few days, but in some cases they linger. In babies in particular, the extent of brain damage is difficult to assess.
In severe hypoxic brain damage, those affected fall into a coma. This can turn into a long-lasting, severe impairment of consciousness or a so-called vegetative state.


Diagnosis: This is how we determine the extent of the damage

When your child comes to us in neuropediatrics, we carry out a comprehensive clinical-neurological examination. This includes:
  • EEG to find general changes and any hidden signs of epilepsy
  • Visual and acoustic evoked potentials - here we stimulate a sensory organ or a nerve in order to test the patency of perception
  • MRI imaging during rehab to see the full extent of the damage and rule out complications