Intracranial pressure monitoring

What is Intracranial Pressure Monitoring?

Intracranial pressure (ICP) monitoring is a medical procedure used to measure the pressure inside the skull (intracranial pressure). ICP monitoring can give physicians and other health care providers essential information to help diagnose, evaluate, and treat conditions that affect the brain and the surrounding tissues.


Before an ICP monitoring procedure, the patient should discuss any health issues or concerns with their physician, including any medications they are taking. They should not eat or drink anything for 8 hours prior to the procedure, as this can affect the accuracy of the readings. Additionally, an intravenous line may be placed so that the patient can receive medications as needed.


During ICP monitoring, a device called a transducer is placed on the patient's scalp over the skull. The transducer sends tiny pulses of sound waves through the skull and back, helping to measure the pressure inside the skull. A tube may be placed in the patient's brain, the ventricle within the brain, or in the space between the skull and the brain. This tube allows the physician to measure and monitor changes in ICP.


There are two types of ICP monitoring that can be used: continuous and intermittent. Continuous monitoring is usually done in the hospital or in an intensive care unit, and requires the insertion of a catheter into the patient's skull. Intermittent monitoring is often done as an outpatient procedure, and involves the use of a probe and a pressure transducer.


ICP monitoring is a relatively safe procedure, as long as it is performed by an experienced medical professional. However, complications can occur, including infection, leakage of cerebrospinal fluid, and brain injury. Additionally, the pressure measurements provided by ICP monitoring may be inaccurate in some patients, due to air bubbles that can get trapped in the monitoring device.

Why Monitor Intracranial Pressure?

Intracranial pressure monitoring can be used to diagnose and evaluate a variety of conditions that affect the brain, such as brain tumors, hydrocephalus, and trauma. It can also help determine the impacts of certain treatments, such as drug therapies or surgeries. Furthermore, it can help in the management of comas, strokes, and other serious brain injuries.

When to Monitor Intracranial Pressure?

ICP monitoring is typically indicated when there is an increase in intracranial pressure, which can indicate the presence of a potentially serious condition. It is often used in cases where standard treatments, such as medications or surgeries, have been unsuccessful. Additionally, it may be used in certain cases to help monitor the progression of a condition, or to determine the need for additional treatment.