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Patients with hydrocephalus, idiopathic intracranial hypertension and head injury frequently require monitoring of intracranial pressure (ICP) and may need repeated episodes of monitoring months or years apart. The gold standard for measurement of ICP remains the external ventricular catheter. This is a fluid-filled catheter transducer system that allows regular recalibration and correction of zero drift by its position relative to a fixed anatomical reference. It also allows drainage of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), providing a means of lowering the ICP. Several catheter tip transducer systems are currently in clinical use, including using strain gauges or fiber-optical pressure sensing techniques. In these devices, zero drift and calibration cannot be checked in vivo. All the ICP monitoring devices in current clinical use require a physical connection between the brain and the external environment. This is a source of infection and limits the duration of monitoring. A number of telemetric monitoring devices, in which data is in some way transmitted transcutaneously, have been developed over the last twenty years, but significant technical problems have precluded their use in routine clinical practice. All current ICP monitors are temporary percutaneous implanted devices. Placement of these devices carries significant morbidity, particularly infection. Patients undergoing repeated monitoring require multiple surgical procedures. Apart from decreasing the risk of infection in patients with severe head injury, the clinical value of an accurate telemetric ICP monitoring system which maintains its reliability over a long period of implantation is high.
Date of Conference: 22-26 Aug. 2007