General, Research, Technology

Why did surgeons ask a woman to play the violin during brain surgery?

Used to be almost all serious surgicalinterventions took place only on condition that the patient was fast asleep under the influence of general anesthesia. Recently, however, brain operations are carried out at a time when a person is in an awake state. Surgeons urged patients to talk during the work process to make sure that they did not touch the areas responsible for human speech. Thanks to this approach, surgeons can prevent the development of complications during surgery. It sounds cool, but what can you say if recently a patient of one of the British hospitals did not speak during the operation, but played a musical instrument? Doctors and patients had good reasons for this.

Woman playing the violin during brain surgery

About unusual surgery wasnarrated in the science publication ScienceAlert. On the surgical table was 53-year-old Dagmar Turner, who for many years has been playing the cello in the symphony orchestra of the Isle of Wight (England). The cello has the same construction as the violin, but is larger in size and requires great mobility of the hands. In 2013, a tumor was found in the woman's brain that led to seizures. A few years later, she decided on an operation to remove the tumor, but was very afraid that after the surgical intervention, her hand coordination, which was extremely important for her, would be disturbed. But the hospital staff figured out how to avoid complications.

How are brain operations performed?

Neurosurgeon Keyoumars Ashkan andhis colleagues suggested that the woman wake up in the middle of the operation and start playing the violin. By her game, they could know for sure that they did not damage the parts of the brain responsible for coordinating hand movements during tumor removal. Such control was extremely important because the tumor was located in the right frontal lobe of her brain, where there are areas responsible for the movements of the left arm.

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According to surgeons, they spend about400 brain operations. However, this was the first time that a patient was playing a musical instrument during a surgical operation. Thanks to a new approach to business, they managed to remove 90% of the tumor, even in those areas where it was considered the most aggressive. With all this, they fully preserved the patient’s hands. A participant in the symphony orchestra was discharged from the hospital three days after the operation and hopes that she will soon be able to play on stage.

According to her words, she was satisfiedthe work of surgeons. The idea that after the operation she would not be able to play a musical instrument very upset her. However, the hospital staff reacted with great responsibility and carefully made a map of her brain to determine the places that would be affected during the intervention. Moreover, the doctors made sure that she was comfortable playing during the operation.

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In general, brain surgery is performed on the mostfor various reasons. For example, in 2019, the American Frank Plummer agreed to an experimental brain operation in order to get rid of alcohol addiction. To read about how such a surgical operation can save you from harmful addictions, you can read in our special material.