External ventricular drains: Management and complications

Rajanandini Muralidharan
Surgical Neurology International 2015, 6 (Suppl 6): S271-4

BACKGROUND: Insertion of an External Ventricular Drain (EVD) is arguably one of the most common and important lifesaving procedures in neurologic intensive care unit. Various forms of acute brain injury benefit from the continuous intracranial pressure (ICP) monitoring and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) diversion provided by an EVD. After insertion, EVD monitoring, maintenance and troubleshooting essentially become a nursing responsibility.

METHODS: Articles pertaining to EVD placement, management, and complications were identified from PubMed electronic database.

RESULTS: Typically placed at the bedside by a neurosurgeon or neurointensivist using surface landmarks under emergent conditions, this procedure has the ability to drain blood and CSF to mitigate intracranial hypertension, continuously monitor intracranial pressure, and instill medications. Nursing should ensure proper zeroing, placement, sterility, and integrity of the EVD collecting system. ICP waveform analysis and close monitoring of CSF drainage are extremely important and can affect clinical outcomes of patients. In some institutions, nursing may also be responsible for CSF sampling and catheter irrigation.

CONCLUSION: Maintenance, troubleshooting, and monitoring for EVD associated complications has essentially become a nursing responsibility. Accurate and accountable nursing care may have the ability to portend better outcomes in patients requiring CSF drainage.

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