Prompt Recognition and Management of Postoperative Intracranial Hypotension-Associated Venous Congestion: A Case Report

Kendall A. Snyder, Michelle J. Clarke, Julie R. Gilbertson, Sara E. Hocker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Postoperative intracranial hypotension-associated venous congestion (PIHV) is an uncommon cause of clinical deterioration after a neurosurgical procedure that is often unrecognized until late in its course. Functional outcomes range from remarkable neurological recovery to death. Little is understood about the reason for deterioration in certain patients compared with improvement in others. Case Summary: A 68-year-old man with a progressive cervical myelopathy underwent an uncomplicated cervical decompression and alignment restoration at our hospital and suffered violent generalized tonic–clonic seizures intraoperatively and postoperatively. A postoperative head CT showed a right parietal hematoma, but no other cranial findings. A subsequent MRI demonstrated what we describe as early PIHV with symmetric T2 signal changes in the bilateral deep gray structures. No diffusion restriction corresponded to these areas. A CT myelogram revealed a considerable CSF collection within the operative bed. Upon returning to the operating room to localize the source of the leak, a large dural tear was identified off of midline with a bone chip alongside the defect. The defect was repaired, and the patient remained comatose for over a week postoperatively. He made a remarkable gradual recovery, and after a month in the hospital and rehabilitation, he returned home with relatively minimal neurological deficits. Conclusions: We postulate that if caught early and treated aggressively, neurologic injury resulting from PIHV may be reversible despite initially ominous imaging. Neurosurgeons and neurointensivists should therefore be compelled to search for dural defects and return to the operating room for immediate repair.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)448-453
Number of pages6
JournalNeurocritical care
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016


  • Cerebral spinal fluid
  • Electroencephalogram
  • Intracranial pressure
  • Neurological intensive care unit
  • Postoperative intracranial hypotension-associated venous congestion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


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