Watch: Patient plays violin during brain surgery, a UK first

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Professional musician Dagmar Turner had brain surgery at King’s College Hospital, London to remove a benign tumor.


-Doctor, doctor, will I be able to play violin after this surgery?

-I’m so sick of that joke that if you don’t play violin during the surgery I will dice your Broca’s area.


I’m playing the violin during brain surgery right now

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I used to be a surgical tech, specialized in neuro surgery, and these “twilight” procedures were hands down the creepiest… looking into someone’s skull as they’re largely aware of what’s happening in the room is deeply unsettling. The operation takes longer to perform and the room is incredibly quiet during, making the room just that much more tense to be in.


Oh, and how are you typing?

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“Dagmar Turner was woken up after her skull was removed.”


May I opine that a portion of her skull was removed?


The patient is doing it?


With the violin specifically I’d be worried about the fine rosin dust that comes off the bow and strings during playing. I suppose they must have had some way to make sure that stayed out of the surgery area…

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My question with this sort of thing is always, what happens if they do lop off a chunk of brain that stops you being able to play violin? Is there, like, a five-second rule where they can hurriedly superglue that chunk back in place? Because if not, it seems like a gratuitous shit sandwich to have to find out your career is over while you’re pumped full of drugs and someone is chopping up your exposed brain.


Who’s hungry?


“…after her skull was removed…”

That sounds rather extreme.

The sphincter tone in the room is so high that if anyone but anesthesia passed gas only dogs could hear it.
We had some orthopods who liked to do intraoperative wakeup tests for their posterior spinal fusions. These teenagers would be in the prone position, with their back flayed open from the nape of their neck to the crack of their ass, and we’d just turn down the drugs until they moved their feet or whatever. They wanted to make sure the scoliosis correction didn’t cause any nerve damage.
The fun part was trying to guess when they’d want it so you’d have everything turned down enough. If you were really clever, you’d get them to be able to follow commands instead of thrash in panic-- so awake enough to be oriented to command but not in pain and not freaking out from being face down under drapes with tube and wires stuck in virtually every orifice.
That, and the countless arguments with the surgeon and neurophysiology over what drugs did and did not interfere with monitoring.
I am SO glad I don’t have to do that anymore.

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The patient is simultaneously playing the violin and typing a message to say they’re playing the violin?
How many arms do they have?

(Yes yes, I know it’s a joke.)

Well, a little violin music should lighten the mood then.

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