April 18, 2024

BrainSense: Next-Generation Intracranial Pressure Monitoring Devices.


Types of Intracranial Pressure Monitoring Devices

There are different types of intracranial pressure monitoring devices that are used depending on the patient’s condition and the desired length of monitoring. Some of the main device types include:

External Ventricular Drainage (EVD) Catheters: One of the most common types is the external ventricular drainage catheter. These thin tubes are inserted into one of the brain’s ventricles and can both drain excess fluid and continually measure the pressure inside the ventricle. EVDs allow for longer term monitoring over days or weeks.

Intraparenchymal Devices: Intraparenchymal ICP monitors are small probes that are inserted directly into the brain tissue, most commonly in the white matter of the frontal lobe. They have strain gauge or fiber optic pressure sensors on the tip. Monitoring can last from hours to a few days with these devices.

Subdural Screws: Subdural screws are miniature screws that are placed through small burr holes in the skull and rest between the dura mater and the skull. They have pressure transducers in the screw tip. Subdural screws provide localized ICP measurements.

Microchips: Some newer technology uses microchip-based ICP monitors that are small enough to be permanently implanted. Though not yet widely used, microchips could potentially allow for long term continuous ICP monitoring for certain conditions.

Pressure Sensor and Transducer Technologies

The different types of intracranial pressure monitoring devices all use various sensor and transducer technologies to convert the physical pressure inside the brain into electrical signals and eventual digital readings:

Strain Gauge Sensors: Strain gauge sensors, usually made of silicon, change electrical resistance when under pressure. This change is converted to a measurable electrical signal proportionate to the applied pressure.

Fiber Optic Sensors: Fiber optic pressure sensors use fiber optic cables whose bending or strain under pressure corresponds to changes in light intensity or wavelength that is translated into a pressure reading.

Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS): MEMS combines microsensors, microactuators, and microelectronics on a microchip. MEMS pressure sensors convert pressure into an electrical signal using deformable membranes and strain gauge components.

Capacitive Sensing: Capacitive pressure sensors contain a conductive diaphragm between two fixed plates. Pressure deflects the diaphragm, changing the capacitance in a way proportional to the applied pressure.

Each technology has advantages and limitations related to accuracy, invasiveness, response times, and potential for long term usage in the brain. Continuous development looks to improve existing systems and testing of novel sensing solutions.

How ICP Monitoring Works in Real Time

When an intracranial pressure monitoring device is implanted or placed, it is attached by catheter tubing to an external monitoring system. Here is a step-by-step overview of the real time process:

1. Pressure transducers in the device convert physical pressure variations inside the brain into electrical signals.

2. The monitoring system receives these electrical signals through the connecting wires or telemetry.

3. The signals go to a differential amplifier that magnifies the small voltage changes.

4. An analog-to-digital converter transforms the amplified voltage signals into digital numeric readings.

5. The monitor’s microprocessor then calculates the patient’s intracranial pressure level based on the digitized signals.

6. The ICP value is continuously displayed digitally on the monitoring system’s screen in mmHg or kPa units.

7. Alarms can be set to sound if the pressure rises above or falls below predefined thresholds.

8. The real time ICP data stream may also be recorded over time for later review and clinical analysis.

Together, the implanted pressure transducer and external monitoring system provide clinicians with a continuous window into shifts in intracranial conditions that could guide critical care decisions.

Clinical Applications and Management Role

Neurological conditions where intracranial pressure monitoring plays an important diagnostic or management role include:

Traumatic Brain Injury: ICP monitoring is frequently used following severe TBI to help guide treatments aimed at keeping pressure below dangerous levels to prevent additional brain injury.

Intracranial Hemorrhage: Bleeding disorders like aneurysms, AVMs or hemorrhagic strokes often warrant monitoring to observe pressure changes and guide surgical or other interventions.

Brain Tumors: Both benign and malignant tumors can sometimes cause elevated ICP, so monitoring may be done pre- and post-operatively to manage swelling and guide additional therapies.

Infections: Bacterial or viral infections of the brain like meningitis have been shown to sometimes benefit from ICP monitoring to prevent herniation risk.

ICP monitors provide clinicians crucial real-time insights to recognize pressure surges and to titrate therapies appropriately. Ongoing advances aim to make these devices ever safer, less invasive, more accurate and support longer term uninterrupted recording capabilities. They play a pivotal role in optimizing outcomes for acute neurological diseases and injuries.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile