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Increased intracranial pressure

  • Alternative Names

    ICP; Intracranial pressure - increased; Intracranial hypertension; Acute increased intracranial pressure; Sudden increased intracranial pressure


    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.

    Treatment may include:

    • Breathing support
    • Draining of cerebrospinal fluid to lower pressure in the brain
    • Medications to decrease swelling
    • Rarely, removal of part of the skull

    If a tumor, hemorrhage, or other underlying problem has caused the increase in intracranial pressure, the cause should be treated as appropriate.

    For information regarding treatment for certain causes of increased intracranial pressure, see:

    • Hydrocephalus
    • Normal pressure hydrocephalus

    Support Groups

    Expectations (prognosis)

    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.

    If the increased pressure pushes on important brain structures and blood vessels, it can lead to serious, permanent problems or even death.

    • Death
    • Permanent neurological problems
    • Reversible neurological problems
    • Seizures
    • Stroke

    Calling your health care provider

    A health care provider will usually make this diagnosis in an emergency room or hospital.