This week, our Chicago brain injury lawyers are exploring nontraumatic brain injuries. The most common cause of nontraumatic brain injury is hypoxic or anoxic injury. Also referred to as cerebral hypoxia or hypoxic-anoxic injury (HAI), the brain injury is extremely serious and life threatening.
HAI is caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain. The brain, like all organs, requires oxygen to function normally. Oxygen is used to metabolize glucose, which provides energy for all of the body’s cells. Without energy, cells no longer function and eventually die. Ninety percent of the brain’s energy is used to send electrochemical impulses and control neurotransmitters (the chemical messengers which transmit messages within the brain, and by which the brain regulates body functions and behavior).
Lack of oxygen interrupts these impulses, and interferes with the functioning of neurotransmitters. As a result, if the brain is deprived of sufficient oxygen for even very short periods it begins to shut down, with brain cell death occurring in as little as five minutes. The consequences of hypoxic or anoxic injury can be severe and permanent brain damage, strokes, and even death.
In technical terms, hypoxia and anoxia are distinguished by the amount of oxygen that reaches bodily tissue. Hypoxic brain injuries are caused by an inadequate supply of oxygen to brain tissue, whereas anoxic brain injuries are caused by a total lack of oxygen to brain tissue. Thus, when a lack of oxygen is immediately encountered, this is referred to as a hypoxic event. Then when the brain is finally completely deprived of oxygen, this evolves into an anoxic event. Though the events are technically different, in practice the terms are used interchangeably.
Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is a serious form of hypoxia, which is characterized by clinical and laboratory evidence of acute or subacute brain injury due to asphyxia (ie, hypoxia, acidosis). This condition may arise during the birthing process caused by a lack of blood flow and oxygen to your baby, resulting in permanent brain damage to your child.
Catastrophic brain damage such as hypoxia, anoxia and hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy occasionally arises in the context of medical malpractice, including obstetrical malpractice or negligence during the administration of anesthesia, which results in inadequate oxygen supply to the patient’s brain. For more information about medical malpractice or wrongful death involving a serious brain injury, contact our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys today.
As with nontraumatic brain injuries generally, hypoxia-anoxia related brain injuries may be naturally caused. However, they may also be the result of negligence or medical malpractice. If you have questions about a HAI-related injury, contact a top-rated Chicago brain injury lawyer at Passen & Powell today at (312) 527-4500 for a Free Consultation.