Cushing’s triad is not related to Cushing’s disease, although both are named after neurosurgeon Harvey Cushing. Cushing's triad is a combination of symptoms of that indicates increased intracranial pressure (ICP), a dangerous condition that should always be treated by medical professionals.
Patients with Cushing’s triad show these three signs: widening pulse pressure (hypertension), respiratory irregularity and bradycardia. Cushing’s triad, and the accompanying ICP, are usually caused by a head injury or brain tumor, and treatment depends on the specific cause.
According to the online Merck Manual, 10 percent of head injuries are severe. A doctor needs to assess any cases of Cushing’s triad, in order to prescribe the correct treatment.
Raising the head of the bed 30 degrees can help lower ICP. The cranial pressure of patients with Cushing’s triad is then closely monitored using a sensor, intraventricular catheter or subarachnoid screw.
Intubation to alleviate respiratory distress is a standard treatment for patients with Cushing’s triad. Some cases may require ventilation.
According to the Merck Manual, sedating someone with Cushing’s triad may be a necessary treatment because physical reactions to pain, such as thrashing, can elevate ICP.
According to the article "Assessing and Managing Head Injury," which appeared in Emergency Medicine, surgery might be necessary when pressure is caused by a hematoma.