OBJECTIVE: Many patients admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) have pre-existing or acquired neurological disorders which significantly affect their short-term and long-term outcomes. The ESICM Neuro Intensive Care Section convened an expert panel to establish a pragmatic approach to neurological examination (NE) of the critically ill patient. METHODS: The group conducted a comprehensive review of published studies on the NE of patients with coma, delirium, seizures and neuromuscular weakness in critically ill patients. Quality of data was rated as high, moderate, low, or very low, and final recommendations as strong, weak, or best practice. SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS: The group made the following recommendations: (1) NE should be performed in all patients admitted to ICUs; (2) NE should include an assessment of consciousness and cognition, brainstem function, and motor function; (3) sedation should be managed to maximize the clinical detection of neurological dysfunction, except inpatients with reduced intracranial compliance in whom withdrawal of sedation may be deleterious; (4) the need for additional tests, including neurophysiological and neuroradiological investigations, should be guided by the NE; (5) selected features of the NE have prognostic value which should be considered in well-defined patient populations.
- Critical Illness
- Neurological examination