Intracranial Pressure Monitoring (ICP)

What is intracranial pressure monitoring (ICP)?

ICU patients who have sustained head trauma, brain hemorrhage, brain surgery, or conditions in which the brain may swell might require intracranial pressure monitoring. The purpose of ICP monitoring is to continuously measure the pressure surrounding the brain. If the pressure surrounding the brain gets too high, it can cause decreased blood flow to the brain and potentially lead to brain damage.

What is an ICP monitor?

The ICP monitor consists of a small plastic tube connected to a bedside monitor, which continuously displays the pressure surrounding the brain.

How is ICP monitoring performed?

The ICP monitor is usually inserted by a neurosurgeon while the patient is in the ICU or operating room. After using numbing medicine (local anesthetic), the neurosurgeon makes a skin incision and inserts the ICP monitor into the brain through a very small hole created in the skull. The ICP monitor is usually inserted in the left or right top-front part of the brain. Some ICP monitors can drain spinal fluid if necessary.

How long is ICP monitoring used?

The monitor remains in place as long as there is concern regarding elevated pressures surrounding the brain. If the pressures surrounding the brain are abnormally high, doctors and nurses institute measures aimed at controlling the pressures to prevent brain injury.

Does ICP monitoring hurt?

Most patients who need ICP monitoring are unconscious and feel little to no pain with this procedure.

Are there any potential complications associated with ICP monitoring?

Potential complications associated with ICP monitoring include infection and brain hemorrhage, which are very infrequent.

Intracranial Pressure Monitoring (ICP)