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For patients who are confronting serious injury, severe symptoms, complex surgery or a challenging diagnosis, a short hospital stay and quick recovery are not always possible. They and their families can rest assured, however, that the UC Neuroscience Institute has the most advanced resources, technology and expertise available anywhere in the world. These resources, provided 24 hours a day, are nowhere more evident than in Neurocritical Care.
What is Neurocritical Care?
Neurocritical care is the intensive care of patients with life-threatening neurological illnesses, including massive stroke, bleeding in and around the brain (subarachnoid hemorrhage, intracerebral hemorrhage, subdural hemorrhage, intraventricular hemorrhage), brain tumors, brain trauma, severe seizures, nerve and muscle diseases (such as myasthenia gravis or Guillain-Barre Syndrome) and spinal cord disorders. Many patients requiring neurocritical care are comatose or paralyzed; they also may have suffered injuries in other parts of the body. Neurocritical care units specialize in managing the unique needs of these patients.
The ultimate goal of neurocritical care is to resuscitate and support the acutely ill neurological patient, minimize secondary neurological injury and medical complications, and facilitate the patient’s transition to a recovery environment.
What is a Neurointensivist?
The medical subspecialty of neurological intensive care is devoted to the comprehensive care of the critically ill neurological patient. Like other intensivists, the neurointensivist actively cares for his or her patients in the ICU, coordinating the patients’ neurological and medical management. Neurological intensive care is unique in its concern with the relationship between the brain and other organ systems in the setting of critical illness. The neurointensivist assumes responsibility for various elements of ICU care that might otherwise be provided by subspecialists in cardiology, endocrinology, infectious diseases, pulmonary medicine and neurology.
Expertise in neurological intensive care also involves procedural skills and proficiency with standard forms of ICU monitoring (i.e., cardiovascular hemodynamic monitoring and mechanical ventilation) as well as specialized forms of neurological monitoring (i.e., ICP, CPP, brain oxygen, EEG monitoring) and interventions (i.e., hypertensive hypervolemic therapy, therapeutic hypothermia).