Decision-Making About Intracranial Pressure Monitor Placement in Children With Traumatic Brain Injury

Pediatr Crit Care Med. 2019 Jul;20(7):645-651. doi: 10.1097/PCC.0000000000001934.


Objectives: Little is known about how clinicians make the complex decision regarding whether to place an intracranial pressure monitor in children with traumatic brain injury. The objective of this study was to identify the decisional needs of multidisciplinary clinician stakeholders.

Design: Semi-structured qualitative interviews with clinicians who regularly care for children with traumatic brain injury.

Setting: One U.S. level I pediatric trauma center.

Subjects: Twenty-eight clinicians including 17 ICU nurses, advanced practice providers, and physicians and 11 pediatric surgeons and neurosurgeons interviewed between August 2017 and February 2018.

Interventions: None.

Measurements and main results: Participants had a mean age of 43 years (range, 30-66 yr), mean experience of 10 years (range, 0-30 yr), were 46% female (13/28), and 96% white (27/28). A novel conceptual model emerged that related the difficulty of the decision about intracranial pressure monitor placement (y-axis) with the estimated outcome of the patient (x-axis). This model had a bimodal shape, with the most difficult decisions occurring for patients who 1) had a good opportunity for recovery but whose neurologic examination had not yet normalized or 2) had a low but uncertain likelihood of neurologically functional recovery. Emergent themes included gaps in medical knowledge and information available for decision-making, differences in perspective between clinical specialties, and ethical implications of decision-making about intracranial pressure monitoring. Experienced clinicians described less difficulty with decision-making overall.

Conclusions: Children with severe traumatic brain injury near perceived transition points along a spectrum of potential for recovery present challenges for decision-making about intracranial pressure monitor placement. Clinician experience and specialty discipline further influence decision-making. These findings will contribute to the design of a multidisciplinary clinical decision support tool for intracranial pressure monitor placement in children with traumatic brain injury.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic / physiopathology*
  • Clinical Decision-Making*
  • Critical Care Nursing
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Intracranial Pressure*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Monitoring, Physiologic
  • Neurosurgeons
  • Nurses*
  • Pediatrics*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Specialties, Surgical*