Background Intracranial hypertension due to primary and secondary injuries is a prime concern when providing care to patients with severe traumatic brain injury. Increases in intracranial pressure vary depending on compensatory processes within the craniospinal space, also referred to as intracranial adaptive capacity. In patients with traumatic brain injury and decreased intracranial adaptive capacity, intracranial pressure increases disproportionately in response to a variety of stimuli. However, no well-validated measures are available in clinical practice to predict the development of such an increase.

Objectives To examine whether P2 elevation, quantified by determining the P2:P1 ratio (=0.8) of the intracranial pressure pulse waveform, is a unique predictor of disproportionate increases in intracranial pressure on a beat-by-beat basis in the 30 minutes preceding the elevation in patients with severe traumatic brain injury, within 48 hours after deployment of an intracranial pressure monitor.

Methods A total of 38 patients with severe traumatic brain injury were sampled from a randomized controlled trial of cerebral perfusion pressure management in patients with traumatic brain injury or subarachnoid hemorrhage.

Results The P2 elevation was not only present before the disproportionate increase in pressure, but also appeared in the comparison data set (within-subject without such a pressure increase).

Conclusions P2 elevation is not a reliable clinical indicator to predict an impending disproportionate increase in intracranial pressure.

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