JOURNAL ARTICLE
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[New Challenges: Diagnosis of Brain Death in Newborn, Children and Adolescents].

BACKGROUND: According to the current update of the German guideline on brain death (BD), participation of paediatricians is now mandatory for the examination of BD in patients younger than 14 years. The present analysis focuses on the previous practice and highlights the challenges that arise from the current update.

METHODS: Retrospective evaluation of the patient registry of the German organ procurement organisation (north-eastern bureau) between January, 2001 and December, 2010 with specified paediatric age groups according to the 4th update of the German guideline on BD from the 1st of July 2015.

RESULTS: 133 patients (0-17 years) received at least one BD examination. Secondary brain damage was most frequent within the first 6 months of life whereas traumatic and other causes of primary brain damage were predominantly observed thereafter. The number of patients who received BD examination by paediatricians or were treated on neonatal/paediatric intensive care units declined with increasing age. In more than two-third of all paediatric patients, no paediatrician was involved in BD diagnostics.

DISCUSSION: After enforcement of the 4th update of the German guideline on BD, the participation of qualified paediatric physicians must be increased significantly compared to previous practice. Advancements in the specialist training of paediatric physicians, adjustments in patient-centered paediatric care and interdisciplinary diagnostic teams may be solutions to meet this demand.

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