Ventriculostomy/ICP question

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    In our 30 bed combined Trauma/Neuro/Surgical/Cardiovascular/Cardiac ICU, we are having a bit of a dilemma as to where to level the transducer on our ICP drainage set. We use the Codman system. I was taught by my preceptor that it's levelled to the tip of the ear. I've read in several different areas that it should be levelled to the tragus of the ear and another reference said it should be levelled to the outer canthus of the eye. Which is correct? I know that it DOESN'T get leveled to the phlebostatic axis where we level the transducers for our Swans and Art lines yet some RN's in our unit have done that and then called the MD when the readings were off! Thanks for your help!

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  3. 14 Comments...

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    This is a good question......of course I define a good question as one which has puzzled me in the past or present. lol Actually, there is more than one correct answer or I should say there are several different reference points/external landmarks in the literature for proper icp monitoring/transducer leveling.

    I would certainly check your facility's policy and procedure manual first. If the matter is addressed, I would use that. If not, perhaps you and some others might work to write a policy. If you are doing ICP monitoring, you need one.

    What has worked for me is to ask the neurosurgeon at what level he or she desires the transducer. Then I clearly/prominently document the position where the measurements are to be obtained.
    This serves 2 purposes: If the surgeon is a stickler for specific landmarks for different catheter tip positions, you will know it. Secondly, you will achieve consistancy in your readings between nurses which is extremely important yet apparently lacking at present.

    As noted above, if specified I would definitely use the facility's written policy. If you are asked by the surgeon to deviate from that policy, I would write that as an order---in turn the order should be transcribed to the Kardex/computerized patient profile or the like to insure accurate communication between nurses.

    Probably not the concrete answer that you were looking for, but it has worked for me. I do think the generic answer is between the top of the ear and the corner of the eye.
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    Our policy states to level to the external audotory meatus of the ear. So, that's what I've been doing. Now our CNS states that it should be levelled to the tragus. Are they the same thing?
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    In our unit the transducer is leveled at the tragus of the ear, we usually keep the drainage bag (codman)lower to facilitate draining.
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    Well, one of the new neurosurgeons wants us to level a ventric. to the pinna of the ear. Hmmm...wish they'd make up their minds!!!!!!
  8. 0
    Hi nurse-lou,
    Our codman rep instructed us to use the tragus.
    Just adding my two cents,
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    Thanks all for your input!
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    I know nothing about neuro!!!! But I just wanted to say, what a combo of ICU's.... are you trained in all aspects?
  11. 0
    Don't they try to make something simple complicated ? Since they came out with the first intracranial/intraventricular monitoring devices and transducers , it has always been the tragus.
    I love neuro ICU. What a challenge ! Keeping the intraventricular pressures within the narrow ranges
    prescribed. Gave lots of IVP meds in that unit !
  12. 0
    We run EVD's on the floor. Policy is to the tragus, unless the surgeon specifically orders something else.

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