Introduction

Diseases of the nervous system are common in the intensive care unit (ICU), both as primary processes and as complications of multiple organ failure in the critically ill patient. Thus coma may be the result of a structural lesion of the central nervous system or of a metabolic encephalopathy. Similarly, the demyelinating polyneuropathy of the Guillain-Barré syndrome may require management in the ICU, whereas patients in the ICU for prolonged periods for other reasons may secondarily develop a critical illness polyneuropathy. An understanding of basic neurophysiology is important if these disorders are to be recognized and treated.

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