Musician plays violin during awake brain surgery

This woman is playing the violin during her brain surgery to help ensure she doesn’t lose function in her left arm. đŸ˜Č

An interactive surgery

Dagmar Turner is a British violinist. Anxious about losing her motor skills after brain surgery, the doctors came up with this solution. She played Gershwin and Mahler while doctors operated on her brain tumor. “It was all those finer details of the fine control of the left hand for example, somebody who’s playing a violin, length of the string, pressure on the string, all those fast movements, moving between one string to the other.”, Keyoumars Ashkan, a neurosurgeon at King’s College Hospital, explained to Brut. Turner’s operation was a total success. When asked about how much it means to her that she could still play the violin, Dagmar expressed how grateful she was because she enjoys playing the instrument immensely.

How is this possible?

Awake brain surgery has also been used on saxophonists and guitarists. Dr. Nader Pouratian, a neurosurgeon, clarifies, “The reason that we keep patients awake during the surgery is so that we can test them. Because no matter how great our imaging is, our goal is not to get the electrode in a specific spot on an MRI but to get it in the right spot for the patient and make their quality of life and their function better.” The brain has no pain receptors — one of the reasons that awake brain surgery is possible.

Doctors are able to make the most of the surgery with awake patients

The practice was pioneered decades ago in epilepsy patients. Recent brain-mapping technology and highly sophisticated anesthetics have increased the number of these surgeries in recent years. Patients undergoing awake brain surgery are sometimes asked to make movements, identify pictures on cards, or count numbers. “It’s a very interactive surgery, and that’s how we like to have it because it puts patients at ease but it also, more importantly, makes sure we’re getting the best testing possible and we’re making the most of the surgery.”, Dr. Pouratian concludes.