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Intracranial Pressure (ICP) Monitoring

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Sudden increased intracranial pressure can be life threatening. Intracranial pressure monitoring, or ICP monitoring, relies on a device inserted into the patient's skull. The monitor measures intracranial pressure and sends data to a recording device.

At Children's Medical Center, we follow a patient-centered model of treatment. By putting the patient first, we bring together all the hospital's resources to meet a child's needs. Critical care physicians work with nurses, respiratory care therapists and others to ensure the best and most innovative treatment is available for each child at a moment's notice.

Patients served by ICP monitoring

Increased intracranial pressure can decrease blood flow to the brain resulting in brain damage or even death. Doctors perform ICP monitoring when a child suffers severe head trauma, or in the event of certain brain or nervous system diseases such as Reye syndrome. Other conditions in which ICP monitoring is used include

  • Bleeding of the brain (intraventricular hemorrhage)
  • Brain tumor
  • Encephalitis
  • Increased fluid around the brain (hydrocephalus, or "water on the brain")
  • Meningitis
  • Pediatric stroke
  • Ruptured cerebral aneurysm
  • Status epilepticus
  • Subdural hematoma

Intracranial pressure monitoring

There are three main types of intracranial pressure monitoring. Pediatric patients are sedated during the procedure.

  • An intraventricular catheter is the most accurate of the ICP monitoring methods. A surgeon drills a hole into the patient's skull and inserts a catheter into the brain's lateral ventricle. The lateral ventricle contains cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), which protects the brain and spinal cord. Using this method, doctors can also decrease pressure by draining CSF.
  • If monitoring is urgent, doctors may use a subdural screw. In this type of ICP monitoring, a surgeon drills a hole in the patient's skull and inserts a hollow screw into the dura mater (the membrane protecting the brain and spinal cord). Sensors are then used to record inside the subdural space.
  • An epidural sensor is the least invasive of the three methods. A surgeon drills a hole in the child's skull and inserts a sensor between the skull and the dural tissue. Using this method, doctors are unable to remove any excess CSF.

To provide support for patients with acute life-threatening conditions, Children's has 83 intensive care beds. Children's Pediatric ICU also conducts leading-edge research and brings new therapies to patients — often years before they are available at other institutions. Our critical care physicians deliver a full range of intensive care services for infants and children, including ICP monitoring.

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