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Musician plays guitar during brain surgery in South Africa


A musician with a brain tumour played a guitar during an operation to remove most of the growth.

South African instrumentalist Musa Manzini plucked a several notes during the successful surgery.

Dr. Rohen Harrichandparsad, one of the neurosurgeons, said this helped guide the medical team in their delicate task while preserving neural pathways.

Mr Manzini was given local anaesthetic during what doctors call an "awake craniotomy" at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital in Durban.

"It increased the margin of safety for us, in that we could have real-time feedback on what we were doing intraoperatively [during the course of surgery]," said Dr Harrichandparsad.

The intention was to test Mr Manzini's "ability to produce music", which requires the complex interaction of pathways in the brain, the doctor said.

Mr Manzini was given his guitar near the end of the procedure as doctors checked that everything was in order.

"There you are, do your thing," a team member said as he began playing.

He then picked out a series of notes before a short tune with the beeping of monitors as accompaniment.

In an "awake craniotomy" some doctors stimulate parts of the brain with a mild electrical current.

This is a means of testing and mapping areas that control key functions such as movement and speech.

Should a patient struggles to speak when the current is applied to a particular area, for example, doctors know they must protect it during tumour removal

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Despite the “awake” in the procedure's name patients are given medication to make them sleepy throughout parts of the operation.

In 2015, a musician played his saxophone as he underwent brain surgery in Spain, while an opera singer sang during a brain operation in the Netherlands in 2014.

Dr Basil Enicker, another neurosurgeon who operated on Manzini, said 90 percent of the tumour was removed.

He added that the musician was at home near Durban and doing well.

"Our main aim was to make sure that we do the best that we can for our patient," Dr Enicker said. He said the response from the public to news of the operation was very positive, adding: "We are pleasantly surprised."

Via Evening Standard

My view: At least he wasn't awake when the surgeon was drilling his skull, that would have been very scary. According to experts, Awake brain surgery, 'helps the surgeon identify and avoid 'functional' areas of the brain. The surgeon is able to treat the correct area of the brain while lowering the risk of damage to the region that controls language, speech and motor skills'.