South African musician plays guitar during brain surgery

December 24, 2018  17:25

A South African musician with a brain tumour has played several notes on his guitar while undergoing a successful operation to remove most of the growth.

Musa Manzini’s guitar-playing helped guide the medical team in their delicate task while preserving neural pathways, said Dr Rohen Harrichandparsad, one of the neurosurgeons. Manzini was given local anaesthetic during what doctors call an awake craniotomy at Inkosi Albert Luthuli hospital in Durban.

“It increased the margin of safety for us, in that we could have real-time feedback on what we were doing,” Harrichandparsad said.

The procedure is not uncommon, and there have been several cases in other countries of musicians playing an instrument or singing during similar operations. In 2015, a musician played his saxophone during brain surgery in Spain, and an opera singer sang during a brain operation in the Netherlands in 2014.

The intention was to test Manzini’s ability to produce music, which requires a complex interaction of pathways in the brain, Harrichandparsad said. The patient was given his guitar toward the end of the hours-long procedure. A photo and video taken by the medical team show Manzini lying with his guitar in the operating room.

“There you are, do your thing,” a team member says as he begins playing. Manzini slowly picks out a series of notes and eases toward a tune, with the beeping of monitors as accompaniment.

In an awake craniotomy, some doctors stimulate parts of the brain with a mild electrical current to test and map areas that control key functions such as movement and speech. If a patient struggles to speak when the current is applied to a particular area, doctors know they must protect it during the removal of the tumour.

Dr Basil Enicker, another neurosurgeon who operated on Manzini, said 90% of the tumour had been removed and that the musician was doing well at his home near Durban.

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

Source: The Guardian/News24

Photos: @Musa Manzini, @Facebook

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