Thursday, October 20, 2011

Post Mortem Question

A friend of mine just died in a car crash. It was a terrible crash and evidently not survivable under any circumstance. The cause of death was confusing to us, 'uncal herniation causing respiratory arrest'. What does this mean?
Jim S.
Jim, so sorry about your friend. An 'uncal herniation' is merely describing a situation in the head where pressure builds up, usually from bleeding (in the case of trauma), and this pressure forces the brainstem down into the formen magnum, and when this happens our brains can no longer instruct the lungs/ diaphragms to breathe, so breathing stops and the person dies. THIS link is a pretty good one to describe this process in more detail. Again, so sorry to hear about your friend. 

Doc 1

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