Definitions for kernicterus
an abnormal accumulation of bile pigment in the brain and other nerve tissue; causes yellow staining and tissue damage
Damage to the brain centres of infants caused by increased levels of unconjugated-indirect bilirubin which is free (not bound to albumin).
Origin: Kern + -icterus.
Kernicterus is a bilirubin-induced brain dysfunction. Bilirubin is a highly neurotoxic substance that may become elevated in the serum, a condition known as hyperbilirubinemia. Hyperbilirubinemia may cause bilirubin to accumulate in the gray matter of the central nervous system, potentially causing irreversible neurological damage. Depending on the level of exposure, the effects range from clinically unnoticeable to severe brain damage and even death. Neonates are especially vulnerable to hyperbilirubinemia-induced neurological damage and therefore must be carefully monitored for alterations in their serum bilirubin levels.
U.S. National Library of Medicine
A term used pathologically to describe BILIRUBIN staining of the BASAL GANGLIA; BRAIN STEM; and CEREBELLUM and clinically to describe a syndrome associated with HYPERBILIRUBINEMIA. Clinical features include athetosis, MUSCLE SPASTICITY or hypotonia, impaired vertical gaze, and DEAFNESS. Nonconjugated bilirubin enters the brain and acts as a neurotoxin, often in association with conditions that impair the BLOOD-BRAIN BARRIER (e.g., SEPSIS). This condition occurs primarily in neonates (INFANT, NEWBORN), but may rarely occur in adults. (Menkes, Textbook of Child Neurology, 5th ed, p613)
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