OAlthough some may be nervous during the operation, a musician who played saxophone for an entire nine-hour brain operation whistled a different tune.
Awake surgery expert Dr. Christian Brogna performed the procedure at Paideia International Hospital in Rome, according to CBS News. The 35-year-old saxophone-playing patient actually took part in the surgery, as it helped Brogna map the musician’s brain functions in real time.
“Playing an instrument means you can understand music, which is a high cognitive function. It means you can interact with the instrument, you can coordinate both hands, you can exercise your memory, you can count – because that music is math – you can test the vision because the patient has to see the instrument, and you can test how the patient interacts with the rest of the team,” Brogna told CBS News.
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The fact that the patient was able to play the instrument for the duration of the operation proved its success as it was practiced on a particularly delicate part of the brain.
“The tumor was located in a very, very complex area of the brain,” he added. “Also, the patient is left-handed. This complicates things because the neural pathways in the brain are much more complicated.”
The medical team saw the patient more than half a dozen times before the operation. The patient said that it was particularly important to maintain his ability to play the saxophone during these consultations.
“When we operate on the brain, we operate on the sense of self, so we have to make sure that we don’t damage the patient as a person – their personality, the way they experience emotions, the way they go through life. The patient will tell you what’s important in their life and it’s your job to protect their wishes,” Brogna said.
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The operation was performed on Monday and the patient was discharged from hospital on Thursday. It was the most recent of several hundred surgeries Brogna has performed, according to the report.