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Pioneers in modern neurosurgery with extensive collaborations worldwide.

Neurosurgery is the medical specialty concerned with diagnosing and treating patients with injuries to or diseases/disorders of the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves.  
Karolinska University Hospital provides world-class neurosurgery and hospital care within the entire neurosurgical field. Our neurosurgery clinic has a proud history of groundbreaking inventions, such as the Gamma Knife. The clinic was established in 1932 by Professor Herbert Olivecrona – a pioneer in modern neurosurgery.  
Today, we offer advanced neurosurgical procedures for a wide range of neurological conditions in both adult and pediatric patients from all over the world. Our clinic serves a population of 2.5 million people, and about 3,000 surgical procedures are performed yearly, of which one out of three are emergency procedures related to traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries, vascular emergencies, and hydrocephalus. Three staff neurosurgeons are on-call to cover emergency services at all hours every day of the year.  
We have 21 academic neurosurgeons dedicated to different sub-specialties, including epilepsy surgery, spinal surgery, neurovascular surgery, functional neurosurgery, and pediatric neurosurgery. All consultant neurosurgeons are research clinicians affiliated with the Karolinska Institute. Surgical interventions for conditions such as neurotrauma, brain tumors, and vascular disorders are constantly being refined. Cutting-edge translational and clinical research are conducted with a focus on augmented-reality navigation for spine surgery, robot-assisted stereo electroencephalography (SEEG) for epilepsy, targeted delivery of neurotrophic factors to the brain for the treatment of Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease, or traumatic spinal cord injuries.   

Gamma Knife Treatment 

After developing the concept of non-invasive radiosurgery, Professor Lars Leksell, and Radiobiologist Börje Larsson invented the Gamma Knife, a ground-breaking neurosurgical technology used to treat various conditions in the brain, such as brain tumors, vascular malformations, trigeminal neuralgia, and other conditions that are otherwise difficult to treat. Gamma Knife surgery is used where traditional brain surgery is not an option. It does not require a surgical incision, thereby avoiding surgical or anesthesiological complications.  
Today, the neurosurgical service at Karolinska covers the entire neurosurgical field, including the Leksell Gamma Knife. We use the ultra-modern version of the Gamma Knife, which is a very sensitive radiosurgery device with precise technology. 

Areas for diagnosis and treatments within neurosurgery

This is one of the major patient groups treated within the area of neurosurgery at Karolinska University Hospital. Patients are offered a broad range of therapies and neurosurgical interventions to treat the tumors in a highly advanced manner, including Gamma Knife surgery. When required, the neurosurgical team cooperates closely with the oncology department.   

This area includes patients with different vascular malformations. The malformation can be treated in several ways, including open surgery, endovascular treatment, microsurgery, and Gamma Knife surgery. The decision on treatment is always made in a multidisciplinary conference and is based on the malformation's size and configuration, position, and patient's symptoms.  

Neurotrauma is included in the emergency medical services area. If neurosurgery is required for a traumatic injury to the brain or spinal cord, Karolinska University Hospital has all the necessary skills and the most advanced technical equipment at its disposal.  

Surgeries within this area are performed using state-of-the-art navigation technologies, intraoperative imaging, and neurophysiological monitoring. The advanced spine team is active in all aspects of spinal neurosurgery and has had excellent clinical results, verified and published in scientific journals. The augmented reality research group is one of the leading groups in the world in spine research on augmented reality navigation and precision medicine. The group published a first-in-human study on augmented reality in the spine in 2018 and was awarded the prestigious “MedTech4Health Innovation Award” in 2021 for its pioneering work in spinal navigation and innovation.  

The Herbert Olivecrona Award

We have an extensive national and international collaboration network within advanced neurosurgical procedures, research, and education. Each year since 1976, the department honors an international neurosurgeon for their contributions to brain or spinal cord surgery and/or research. The celebration of the Herbert Olivecrona Award includes an invitation to deliver the Olivecrona Lecture at the Olivecrona Symposium in December each year at  Karolinska University Hospital. The laureate receives the Olivecrona Medal and Diploma at an award ceremony following the symposium.  

Other conditions treated

Image of the gamma knife at Karolinska, Solna.
Since the invention of the Gamma Knife at Karolinska in the 1960s, we are the only hospital in the world with more than 50 years of experience treating patients with the device.
Bringing together cutting-edge research and world-leading expertise
Karolinska’s center for epilepsy surgery is the largest of its kind in Sweden, with about 25-30 surgical procedures per year. Our teams in neurosurgery, neurophysiology, neurology, and neuroradiology work together to offer both children and adults the best possible treatment in order to increase their quality of life.
We focus intensely on continuous learning and improvement to maintain world-class trauma care.