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School of Mathematics, Computer Science & Engineering

nICP: Non-invasive Intracranial Pressure Monitoring System

Project DetailsAdditional Information

Principal Investigator:Dr. Justin Phillips
Co-investigator:Prof. Panicos Kyriacou

Clinical Co-investigator: Mr Christopher Uff,
(Consultant Neurosurgeon and Head of Neurotrauma
The Royal London Hospital)

Grants and Awards (see our News site):
Product Development Award, by the
National Institute of Health Research (NIHR)

Project Overview

Medical treatment received immediately after traumatic head injury is critical to the survival and recovery of the patient. Brain swelling often causes a rise in pressure within the rigid confines of the skull.  This rise in so-called ‘intracranial pressure’ can cause a reduction in blood supply to brain leading to irreversible injury or death in patients with severe head injuries. Standard pressure monitoring requires insertion of a sensor through a hole drilled into the skull by a neurosurgeon, a procedure that carries risks of life threatening bleeding and infection as well as delay in starting monitoring.

The project aims to further develop a system for continuous non-invasive monitoring of intracranial pressure. A prototype is currently under development based on a probe that is placed on the forehead and illuminates the underlying brain tissue. Light sensors in the probe detect the light reflected back from the brain, which pulses as a result of the pulsation of the brain’s blood vessels. Changes in the pressure surrounding the arteries affect the shape of the recorded pulse wave, so analysing the wave shape will allow calculation of the pressure within the skull, which will be displayed to the clinician in real time.

The reported intracranial pressure will enable rapid assessment of newly admitted head injured patients to indicate the need for emergency procedures such as drainage of fluid from around the brain and allow doctors to plan long-term treatment.  The proposed monitor could lead to significant improvements in survival rates, shortened hospital stays and reduced long-term disability. The technology could also benefit patients suffering from meningitis, hydrocephalus (water on the brain), liver failure and migraine. A final version of the system, designed for use in ambulances, emergency departments or intensive care units, will be developed and tested in healthy volunteers and hospital patients.