Patients who have had a bleed into the brain, a severe blow to the head or who have had brain surgery may get swelling of the brain. This swelling may cause an increase of the pressure within the skull which may impair the function of the brain. A special probe called an Intracranial Pressure Monitor (ICP) may be inserted into a ventricle of the brain or into brain tissue to measure this pressure.
How Does it Work?
The specialised probe is inserted into the brain using a small burr hole. This may happen during scheduled surgery or in the ICU. If the probe is only measuring the pressure within the skull it will be attached to the ‘intra-cranial pressure monitor’. This monitor may be a separate monitor or integrated as part of the bedside monitor.
If the probe is inserted into a ventricle of the brain there will also be a drainage system whereby CSF can be removed from the ventricles. CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) is a clear fluid surrounding the brain to cushion it from the hard skull.
When the pressure in the brain increases, doctors and nurses will alter the patient’s treatment depending on a number of factors. This may include the removal of small amounts of CSF to make more room in the skull for the brain and assist in reducing the pressure inside the skull.
How Long Will It Be Used For?
The ICP monitor or drain usually stays in place until the patient’s condition has stabilised for several days as the pressure in the brain is reducing. There is little pain when the ICP monitor is in position but the tubing needs to be attached to the patient's head to help secure it.
Are There Any Complications?
All Intensive Care interventions and procedures carry a degree of potential risk even when performed by skilled and experienced staff. Please discuss these issues with the medical and nursing staff who are caring for the patient.
Of course, if you have any questions or concerns, please discuss them with the ICU nurses and doctors.
Please note these translations are based on an earlier version of this description.
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The information contained on this page is general in nature and therefore cannot reflect individual patient variation. In addition it reflects Australian intensive care practice which may differ from other countries. It is meant as a back up to specific information which will be discussed with you by the Doctors and Nurses caring for your loved one. ICCMU attests to the accuracy of the information contained here BUT takes no responsibility for how it may apply to an individual patient. Please refer to the full disclaimer.
Intra-cranial pressure monitoring ~ Version 2.1
First published February 2008
Reviewed November 2011
Author Kay Johnson CNS ICCMU