ICP; Intracranial pressure – increased; Intracranial hypertension; Acute increased intracranial pressure; Sudden increased intracranial pressure
Definition of Increased intracranial pressure
Increased intracranial pressure is a rise in the pressure inside the skull that can result from or cause brain injury.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Increased intracranial pressure can be due to a rise in cerebrospinal fluid pressure. It can also be due to increased pressure within the brain matter caused by a mass (such as a tumor), bleeding into the brain or fluid around the brain, or swelling within the brain matter itself.
Signs and tests
A health care provider will usually make this diagnosis at the patient’s bedside in an emergency room or hospital. Primary care doctors may sometimes spot early symptoms of increased intracranial pressure such as headache, seizures, or neurological problems.
Sudden increased intracranial pressure is an emergency. The person will be treated in the intensive care unit of the hospital. The health care team will measure and monitor the patient’s neurological and vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure.
Sudden increased intracranial pressure is a serious and often deadly condition. If the underlying cause of the raised intracranial pressure can be treated, then the outlook is generally better.
David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; Daniel B. Hoch, PhD, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 12/21/2009