Neurocritical Care Medicine

The Discipline

Neurocritical care medicine focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of life-threatening diseases of the nervous system, including brain and spinal cord trauma, cerebral edema, ruptured aneurysms,severe strokes, encephalitis and meningitis, refractory seizures, and complicated brain tumors.  Neurocritical care subspecialists also manage the medical complications that may occur in their patients, and deal with ethical and social issues including estimating prognosis, planning advance directives, and counseling patients and their families.

Physicians trained in neurocritical care medicine typically work in hospital-based settings, often in specialized neurocritical intensive care units, usually with a comprehensive team that often includes neurologists, neurosurgeons, neurological radiologists, critical care nurses, respiratory therapists, rehabilitation specialists, pharmacists, and social workers who collectively coordinate care for the critically ill neurologic patient.


Internal medicine physicians pursuing neurocritical care medicine must be previously certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine in Critical Care Medicine and complete 12 months of accredited clinical neurocritical care fellowship training.

Certification in neurocritical care is jointly administered by the American Board of Internal Medicine, the American Board of Anesthesiology, the American Board of Emergency Medicine, the American Board of Neurological Surgery, and the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.

Major Professional Societies

  • Neurocritical Care Society