Neurosurgeons in Italy have successfully performed surgery on a 35-year-old musician to remove a tumour from his brain while he played his saxophone
The male patient, known as G.Z., underwent the procedure on 10 October, at Rome’s Paideia International Hospital and was discharged on 13 October.
Dr Christian Brogna, a neurosurgeon who specialises in awake surgery, told CBS News that there were no adverse effects on the patient and he was able to ensure the patient’s neurological functions were not compromised.
Brogna led a highly specialised 10-person international team for the procedure, and used cutting-edge technology.
“The neuronal networks that underlie the various brain functions, such as playing, speaking, moving, remembering, and counting, can be precisely mapped during surgery using awake surgery,” said Brogna in a release.
The patient was seen playing the theme song from the 1970 movie ‘Love Story’ and the Italian national anthem during the surgery.
According to Brogna, the main purpose of awake surgery is to remove a brain tumour or a vascular malformation, such as cavernomas, located in specific areas of the brain while maintaining the patient’s quality of life.
The patient’s ability to play the saxophone was also beneficial to the medical team, as it allowed them to observe various brain functions during the operation
Brogna, who has performed hundreds of awake brain surgeries, believes that preparation is the key to completing such a complex operation.
“Every patient is unique, every brain is unique, so we really need to know the patient very well,” he told CBS News.
He also explained that playing an instrument means you can understand music, which is a high cognitive function; you can interact with the instrument, coordinate both hands, exercise memory, and count because music is mathematics.
“You can test the vision because the patient has to see the instrument; you can test the way the patient interacts with the rest of the team,” Brogna added.
Dr Christian Brogna, a neurosurgeon and expert in awake surgery.
Image via CBS News
During the preparations for any sort of brain surgery, Brogna said the team looks at the patient as a whole, not just the pathology
“When we operate on the brain, we are operating on the sense of self, so we need to make sure that we do not damage the patient as a person; in terms of their personality, their way of feeling emotions, the way they get through life.
“The preparation period also ensures that the patient understands every detail of the procedure before it takes place,” explained Brogna.
Brogna expressed his pride in his patient’s ability to resume his normal life and in the fact that this field of medicine is becoming better understood with each procedure.