Intracranial pressure during procedural pain

Biol Neonate. 2003;84(3):202-5. doi: 10.1159/000072303.


Physiological changes provoked by pain may threaten the integrity of the CNS. In particular, intracranial pressure (ICP) regulates brain perfusion, and its sudden increase may trigger brain haemorrhage. We measured ICP in 51 healthy newborns (gestational age: 35-41 weeks) during blood sampling, by means of a tonometer applied to the anterior fontanelle. Peak ICP values were compared during 3 different types of blood sampling: from the external jugular vein (JV), by heel prick and by heel prick with sensorial saturation. Sensorial saturation consists in giving sensorial stimuli during pain to arrest the transmission of pain to the cerebral cortex. ICP peak values during heel prick were higher than during JV sampling (mean=26.22 vs. 21.036 mm Hg; p<0.0001), though babies who underwent the latter procedure had high ICP values before sampling due to the body position required. Heel prick with sensorial saturation was associated with a lower ICP peak (mean=11.75 mm Hg) than sampling from JV (p<0.0001). We concluded that heel prick caused a greater rise in ICP than sampling from JV and that sensorial saturation moderated the rise associated with heel prick.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Blood Specimen Collection / adverse effects*
  • Blood Specimen Collection / methods
  • Female
  • Heel
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intracranial Pressure*
  • Jugular Veins
  • Male
  • Pain / etiology*
  • Pain / physiopathology*
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Punctures