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Who We Are

Specialized critical care needs for patients with neurological and neurosurgical disorders have been recognized since the pioneering days of neurology and neurosurgery. The mission of the Johns Hopkins Neurosciences Critical Care Division of the Departments of Neurology, Anesthesiology-Critical Care Medicine, and Neurosurgery is to provide the highest possible quality comprehensive clinical, research and educational facility of its kind.

Historically, Johns Hopkins is in a privileged position as the very institution that heralded the organization of the first neurosurgical and post-operative ICU. Dr. Walter Dandy, one of history's premier neurosurgeons and long time professor and chairman of Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins, determined that patients following surgery would benefit if cared for in a post-operative environment that was both close to the operating rooms and staffed by a special nursing group around the clock. This idea led to the first ICU in 1923.

This concept, lost over successive decades, was reintroduced to Johns Hopkins Medicine (JHM) in 1982 through the pioneering work of Drs. Dan Hanley of Neurology and Donlin Long of Neurosurgery. Today, the Neurosciences Critical Care Units (NCCU) at both The Johns Hopkins Hospital (JHH) and The Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center (JHBMC) are multidisciplinary, tertiary, referral based intensive care units designed to treat patients with serious and life-threatening diseases of the central and peripheral nervous system. This includes disorders such as:

  • Tumors of the brain and spinal cord
  • Large strokes
  • Brain hemorrhage,
  • Neurotrauma or traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Life-threatening seizures or status epilepticus
  • Other neurologic diseases which necessitate urgent and intensive care medicine

Both NCCUs are multidisciplinary units, staffed by neurologists, anesthesiologists, neurosurgeons, nurse practitioners, and critical care nurses who are specially trained in neurological disorders treated in the NCCU. Our treatment team also includes social workers, physical therapists, speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, nutritionists, and clinical pharmacologists. This multidisciplinary expertise allows us to be successful in the treatment of even the most challenging and difficult diseases of the neurologic system.

A 24-bed bed closed-unit design, the JHH NCCU provides complete ICU management and care to more than 1,700 admissions per year with patients admitted from neurosurgery, neurology, interventional neuroradiology, orthopedic/spine, and otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat). The NCCU at JHBMC is an 8-bed unit.

Successfully blending the goals of proficiency and expertise in research, teaching, and patient care, the the Hopkins NCCU faculty are prolific academicians, producing approximately 40 manuscripts and specialty medical meeting presentations each year, with recent publications in journals including Stroke, Critical Care Medicine, Neurology, PNAS, Epilepsia, Anesthesiology, Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism, American Society of Neuroimaging, Resuscitation, Journal of Neurosurgery, Annals of Biomedical Engineering, Neurocritical Care, and others.

As a primary teaching institution, the education of future physicians is at the heart of our mission. The neuroscience critical care fellowship program is a national leader in neurocritical care medicine, training the most number of physicians dedicated to the field of neurocritical care compared to other academic medical programs. Our fellowship graduates are now leading major academic and clinical programs.

While research and teaching are integral to the NCCU at Johns Hopkins, our paramount mission is focused on delivering excellent and unparalleled neurological ICU care.


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