Cardiovascular procedures: neurologic complications

Yongwoo Kim MD (

Dr. Kim of Temple University Lewis Katz School of Medicine has no relevant financial relationships to disclose.

Steven R Levine MD, editor. (

Dr. Levine of the SUNY Health Science Center at Brooklyn has received honorariums from Genentech for service on a scientific advisory committee and a research grant from Genentech as a principal investigator.

Originally released November 15, 1996; last updated January 14, 2019; expires January 14, 2021

This article includes discussion of neurologic complications of cardiovascular procedures, heart transplantation, coronary artery bypass graft surgery, CABG, left heart catheterization, and other cardiac procedures. The foregoing terms may include synonyms, similar disorders, variations in usage, and abbreviations.


The number of patients undergoing cardiac procedure has been increasing. Ischemic strokes, diffuse encephalopathy, and altered cognitive status are important neurologic complications of cardiac procedures. Neurologists are often called for consult before or after cardiac procedures.

Key points


• Invasive cardiac procedures are being performed increasingly commonly.


• Central nervous system complications include strokes and cognitive changes.


• Awareness of risk factors and pathogenesis can be helpful in reducing these complications.

Historical note and terminology

The number of patients undergoing cardiac procedures has been increasing. Neurologic complications have been recognized as an important cause of perioperative morbidity. Neurologists are called on for consultations not only to assess and treat these complications but also increasingly to devise strategies to prevent them from occurring in the first place.

This review covers the neurologic complications of cardiovascular procedures, including coronary artery bypass graft surgery, cardiac valve procedures, cardiac catheterization for percutaneous coronary interventions, radiofrequency ablative procedures, patent foramen ovale closures, and cardiac transplantation.

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