To identify brain death, both doctors must do extensive tests to make sure there is no probability for irreversibility of the coma. There needs to be a complete neurological exam that includes absence of spontaneous moment, posture, seizures, shivering, verbal stimuli response and noxious stimuli response provided through a cranial nerve. Spinal reflexes may be present during the exam.
They also check pupillary reflexes to direct and consensual light.
There will be absent corneal, oculocephalic, cough and gag reflexes. Oculovestibular reflex is tested with ice water being irrigated into the ear canal.
The heart rate fails to increase more than 5 beats per minute after given 1-2 mg of atropine. This shows vagus nerve and nuclei are not functioning.
There will also be absent respiratory efforts
An apnea test is performed but only needs to be preformed once when results are conclusive. Before doing the apnea test the patient must have a core temperature of 97.7 degrees F, positive fluid balance for the previous 6 hours, and normal PCO2.
If the patient is still eligible, the apnea test is conducted which includes connecting the patient to a pulse oximeter and disconnecting their ventilator delivering 100% oxygen into the trachea. They should look closely for any respiratory movement. Measure the PO2 and PCO2 and pH after 8 minutes and then reconnect the patient to their ventilator. If respiratory moments are absent and arterial PCO2 is lower or equal to 60 mm the apnea test is positive supporting the diagnosis of brain death
SOURCE: Identifying brain death