UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Neurology

Title: Altered Level of Consciousness Pearl

Keywords: correction to altered level of consciousness pearl (PubMed Search)

Posted: 8/20/2009 by Aisha Liferidge, MD (Updated: 8/22/2009)
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  • To be conscious, one must be both awake and alert.
  • Patients who sustain severe anoxic cortical damage, with brainstem sparing, exhibit wakefulness and sleep, but are not aware, and thus, are unconscious.
  • This description is the hallmark of a "vegetative state."
  • A coma is a deep depression in the state of altered level of consciousness, which is characterized by the patient's response to verbal or painful stimuli.