Ethical considerations in functional magnetic resonance imaging research in acutely comatose patients

Brain:0-0 (2015)
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After severe brain injury, one of the key challenges for medical doctors is to determine the patient’s prognosis. Who will do well? Who will not do well? Physicians need to know this, and families need to do this too, to address choices regarding the continuation of life supporting therapies. However, current prognostication methods are insufficient to provide a reliable prognosis. Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) holds considerable promise for improving the accuracy of prognosis in acute brain injury patients. Nonetheless, research on functional MRI in the intensive care unit context is ethically challenging. These studies raise several ethical issues that have not been addressed so far. In this article, Prof. Charles Weijer and his co-workers provide a framework for researchers and ethics committees to design and review these studies in an ethically sound way.

Author Profiles

Charles Weijer
University of Western Ontario
Tommaso Bruni
King's College London


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