Inside the Neuro ICU

Oxygen -  Patients in the ICU often need extra oxygen. It may be given through a face mask, ventilator, or nasal cannula, which is a soft tube with two prongs that fit just inside the nose.

Monitors - ICU monitors have alarms that signal nurses when something needs to be checked, but alarms are not always cause for concern. If you feel that a signaling alarm needs to be checked, please speak to a nurse.

Ventilator - a machine that helps a person breathe. Patients who have often undergone trauma or complicated surgery may have difficulty breathing on their own. A ventilator tube goes in through the nose/mouth so patients are unable to speak on a ventilator, but flash cards or a writing tablet can help with communication.

Compression Stockings - special tight socks worn to increase circulation in the legs and prevent blood clots.  Compression stockings may go the knee or all the way to the hip.

Tests - Frequent tests and treatments may be performed, like drawing blood and diagnostics. At times like these, you may be asked to leave the room to clear the area around the patient.

Medication - Medications can cause sleepiness, nausea, or confusion. Patients may receive several types of medication including antibiotics, sedatives, and medication for pain.

IV Lines and Tubes - Patients can have one or more IV (intravenous) lines/tubes at a time. IV lines can drain and suction fluids or air from the body, provide nutrition and medication or measure heart or blood pressure.

Common equipment in a Neuro ICU includes: 

  • intracranial pressure monitors
  • external ventricular drains
  • mechanical ventilator to assist breathing
  • cardiac monitors including telemetry, external pacemakers, and defibrillators
  • equipment for monitoring bodily functions
  • numerous intravenous lines, feeding tubes, nasogastric tubes, suction pumps, drains and catheters
  • a wide array of drugs to treat the main condition(s)

Medically speaking, the Neuro ICU is a busy place and there may be patients other than your loved one on the unit with many of the same monitors. You should be prepared to see a lot of lines, tubes, and equipment on many of the patients.