Intracranial pressure, Neurologic injury, Nonpharmacologic interventions



  1. Sacco, Tara L. MS, RN, CCRN-K, AGCNS-BC, ACCNS-AG
  2. Davis, Jenna Gonillo MS, ACNPC-AG, CCRN


Pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic interventions are available to treat patients who experience serious elevations in intracranial pressure (ICP). In some cases, patients may experience ICP that is refractory to treatment. Significant negative effects on cerebral blood flow, tissue oxygenation, and cerebral metabolism occur as a result of intracranial hypertension, leading to secondary brain injury. In part 2 of this series, nonpharmacologic interventions for ICP and ICP refractory to treatment are discussed. Interventions include neurologic monitoring (bedside assessment and multimodal monitoring), ventilatory support, fluid and electrolyte maintenance, targeted temperature management, and surgical intervention. Technology is always evolving, and the focus of multimodal monitoring here includes devices to monitor ICP, brain tissue oxygen tension, and cerebral blood flow and cerebral microdialysis monitors. Nursing care of these patients includes perspicacious assessment and integration of data, monitoring ventilatory and hemodynamic functioning, and appropriate patient positioning. Nurses must collaborate with the interprofessional care team to ensure favorable patient outcomes while utilizing an evidence-based guideline for the management of ICP.