Neurosurgical complications: what the radiologist needs to know

  • Matthew A. HaberEmail author
  • Muhammad Abd-El-Barr
  • William Gormley
  • Srinivasan Mukundan
  • Aaron D. Sodickson
  • Christopher A. Potter
Review Article


Visits to the emergency department by patients who have recently undergone neurosurgery are a common occurrence, and these patients frequently receive emergent cross-sectional head imaging in order to evaluate for complications. Different neurosurgical approaches may have typical postoperative imaging findings that can be confused with pathology. Furthermore, particular abnormal postoperative imaging findings may signal an evolving complication. It is essential for the radiologist to understand common neurosurgical procedures and their potential complications in order to provide proper diagnostic evaluation of the postoperative neurosurgical patient. The purpose of this review is to assist radiologists in the evaluation of the postoperative neurosurgical patient and educate them on associated complications. Familiarity with common neurosurgical techniques and postoperative complications will help radiologists make the correct diagnosis, communicate effectively with the neurosurgeon, and expedite patient care.


Neurosurgical Emergency Complication Craniotomy Hemorrhage Imaging 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© American Society of Emergency Radiology 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of RadiologyBrigham and Women’s HospitalBostonUSA
  2. 2.Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  3. 3.Department of NeurosurgeryDuke University Medical CenterDurhamUSA
  4. 4.Department of NeurosurgeryBrigham and Women’s HospitalBostonUSA
  5. 5.Division of NeuroradiologyBrigham and Women’s HospitalBostonUSA
  6. 6.Division of Emergency RadiologyBrigham and Women’s HospitalBostonUSA

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