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Saturday, March 12th 2011

Studying for Free

Today I take the written neurosurgical exam for self examination, as opposed to credit. Preparing for the exam, and studying throughout residency, can be an expensive endeavor. Especially as, during the economic downturn, many programs have cut supplementary funds for residents such as book funds. Now, to be fair, with access to a well equipped library and some extra leg work you can make it through residency without spending on textbooks. And indeed, the library is probably the best free resource any resident has seeing as there is probably no way through residency without a handful of textbooks.

But for lighter studying for the neurosurgical board there are resources out there which are both free and readily accessible:

The first, and best, free resource is of one of some moral ambivalence. It’s a blog posted to from Europe. It exclusively links to scanned medical textbooks, most of them related to neurosurgery or the neurosciences. To be fair some of these posted items almost certainly violate international copyright laws and downloading them constitutes piracy. I’m sure there are other resources for downloading scanned neurosurgical texts for free, but this is one of the most prominent and easiest.

Ile Bubulina Blog

Dr. E.R. Flotte has written a great little “Outline of Neurosurgery.” An eighty page document broken into the typical disciplines, which in bulleted order goes over the basics of much of neurosurgery. It is a wonderful beginners resource.

Outline of Neurosurgery (Outline of Neurosurgery PDF)

The CNS NeuroWiki goes over a variety of neurosurgery topics in short brief, key point posts. It is a good resources to look up specific topics.
CNS NeuroWiki

Vesalius is a clinically oriented site focused on technique for all surgical specialties. However, they have free resources focused on intraoperative neurosurgical anatomy.


There are innumerous great neuroradiology sites to review. I particularly like the AFIP archives hosted by the RSNA. It’s a listing of various articles that focus on differential diagnosis and pattern recognition, including some very pertinent topics.

AFIP Neuroradiology Archives

Sylvius is an brain MRI atlas organized by structure. While very cool and with corresponding free iOS applications, the website itself is somewhat limited in its aid as you essentially have to know what you’re looking for before you utilize it and it goes into shallow detail concerning the relevance of the various structures. The portable applications are a little better as they have very good quiz functions.


The Whole Brain Atlas is another brain MRI atlas. While the functionality of the website leaves something to be desired, it may be more useful than Sylvius. It goes over normal anatomy and a whole host of basic neuropathologies as they appear on T1/T2/SPECT.

The Whole Brain Atlas

Anyone else have any really good free, online resources for the neurosurgery resident (besides say, Uncle Harvey)?