Increased intracranial pressure (ICP) Cheat Sheet

A brain injury or another medical condition can causegrowing pressure inside your skull. This dangerous condition is called increased intracranial pressure (ICP) and can lead to a headache. The pressurealso further injure your brain or spinal cord.

This kind of headache is an emergency and requires immediate medical attention. The sooner you get help, the more likely you are to recover.

Intracranial Pressure: Normal Values

Intracranial pressure is the total pressure exerted by the brain, blood and CSF in the intracranial vault. The Monroe- Kellie hypothesis states the sum of the intracranial volumes of brain (≈80%), blood(≈10%), and CSF(≈10%) is constant, and that an increase in any one of these must be offset by an equal decrease in another, or else pressure increases.

The ICP varies with age and normative values for childrenare not well established. Normal values are less than 10 to 15 mm Hg for adultsand older children, 3 to 7 mm Hg for young children, and 1.5 to 6 mm Hg forterm infants. ICP values greater than 20 to 25 mm Hg require treatment in mostcircumstances. Sustained ICP values of greater than 40 mm Hg indicate severe,life-threatening intracranial hypertension.

Causes of raised intracranial pressure

  • Increased brain volume
  • Intracranial space occupying lesions
  • Brain tumors
  • Brain abscess
  • Intracranial hematoma
  • Intracranial vascular malformation
  • Cerebral edema
  • Encephalitis (viral, inflammatory)
  • Meningitis
  • Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Hepatic encephalopathy
  • Reye’s syndrome
  • Stroke
  • Reye’s syndrome
  • Increase in CSF volume
  • Hydrocephalous
  • Choroids plexus palpilloma
  • Increased blood volume
  • Vascular malformations
  • Cerebral venous thrombosis
  • Meningitis, encephalitis

What are the symptoms of ICP?

These are the most common symptoms of an ICP:

  • Headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Feeling less alert than usual
  • Vomiting
  • Changes in your behavior
  • Weakness or problems with moving or talking
  • Lack of energy or sleepiness

The symptoms of ICP may look like other conditions or medical problems. Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

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