+
Science

Man was awake and playing the saxophone throughout his entire 9-hour brain tumor surgery

Several times during the surgery, the patient played the theme song from "Love Story" by Francis Lai.

brain surgery saxophone

"Awake surgery" allows brain surgeons to see the functioning parts of the brain to avoid during surgery.

Do you ever step back and marvel at the miraculous things human beings have figured out how to do?

Less than 200 years ago, no human being had ever played a saxophone, there was no such thing as anesthesia and if you had even a simple brain tumor, you were just out of luck.

Now, a team of doctors in Italy has successfully performed a highly complex, nine-hour brain surgery on a man while he was awake and while he played the saxophone. Not only that, but the patient reported feeling "tranquility" during the surgery and only spent a few days in the hospital after the surgery before being discharged.

According to CBS News, a 35-year-old male patient had a brain tumor removed at Paideia International Hospital in Rome, Italy, on October 10. The surgery was led by Dr. Christian Brogna, a neurosurgeon who specializes in complex cancer surgeries and "awake surgery," in which patients are not put under general anesthesia. According to the Mayo Clinic, certain brain surgeries actually require a patient to be awake and responsive during the procedure to lessen the risk of the surgery damaging areas of the brain that could affect vision, movement or speech.


Dr. Brogna told CBS News that this particular surgery was located in "a very, very complex area of the brain" and also pointed out that the patient is left-handed. "This makes things more complicated because the neural pathways of the brain are much more complicated," he said. Recent research shows that left-handed people differ in brain asymmetry from right-handed people and that the right and left hemispheres of the brain tend to be more connected in people who are left-handed.

The team of 10 who successfully completed the surgery was made up of neurosurgeons, anesthesiologists, neuropsychologists, neurophysiologists and engineers from around the world. Though other awake craniotomies that included a patient playing a musical instrument have been done before, the level of complexity and cutting-edge technologies used in this surgery made it a notable accomplishment.

Why the saxophone? The man had told the surgeons that retaining his musical abilities was of the utmost importance to him.

"Awake surgery makes it possible to map with extreme precision during surgery the neuronal networks that underlie the various brain functions such as playing, speaking, moving, remembering, counting," Brogna said in the hospital's news release. Playing music during the surgery gave the surgeons a visual of where those functions were in the patient's brain and helped them ensure they were keeping them intact.

Several times during the surgery, the patient played the theme song from "Love Story" by Francis Lai and the Italian national anthem on his saxophone. (You can watch him playing in the video below shared by Voice of America.)

"To play an instrument means that you can understand music, which is a high cognitive function," Brogna told CBS News. "It means you can interact with the instrument, you can coordinate both hands, you can exercise memory, you can count — because music is mathematics — you can test vision because the patient has to see the instrument, and you can test the way the patient interacts with the rest of the team," he said.

Such surgeries require intense preplanning and familiarity with the patient's normal functioning, and the team met with the patient six or seven times in the 10 days leading up to the surgery.

"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 — their personality, the way they feel emotions, the way they get through life," Brogna told CBS News. "The patient will tell you what is important in his life and it is your job to protect his wishes."

As amazing as surgery like this is, Brogna reminds us that there's still so much we don't know about the way the brain works. Prodecures like this one help doctors learn in addition to helping patients.

"Each operation in awake surgery not only allows to obtain the maximum result in terms of removal of the pathology, but it is a real discovery," Brogna said in the hospital's news release. "Each time it offers us a window into the functioning of this fascinating, but still in many ways mysterious organ, which is the brain."

via Chewy

Adorable Dexter and his new chew toy. Thanks Chewy Claus.

True

Every holiday season, millions of kids send letters asking for everything from a new bike to a pony. Some even make altruistic requests such as peace on Earth or helping struggling families around the holidays.

But wouldn’t the holiday season be even more magical if our pets had their wishes granted, too? That’s why Chewy Claus is stepping up to spread holiday cheer to America’s pets.

Does your dog dream of a month’s supply of treats or chew toys? Would your cat love a new tree complete with a stylish condo? How about giving your betta fish some fresh decor that’ll really tie its tank together?

Or do your pets need something more than mere creature comforts such as life-saving surgery?

Keep ReadingShow less
popular

Artist captures how strangers react to her body in public and it's fascinating

Haley Morris-Cafiero's photos might make you rethink how you look at people.

Credit: Haley Morris-Cafiero

Artist Haley Morris-Cafiero describes herself on her website as "part performer, part artist, part provocateur, part spectator." Her recent project, titled "Wait Watchers" has elements of all her self-descriptors.

In an email to us, Morris-Cafiero explained that she set up a camera in the street and stood in front of it, doing mundane activities like looking at a map or eating gelato. While she's standing there she sets off her camera, taking hundreds of photos.

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

Arizona couple ties the knot in the same place they met, the mayonnaise aisle

"We don't have that many more years to do something dumb and stupid."

Photo by Kelsey Todd on Unsplash

Couple ties the knot in the mayonnaise aisle

Everyone does something a little outside of the norm at least a few times in their life.

Of course this isn't based in science, it's just an observation that likely keeps life interesting. A couple took a step outside of the expected when they decided to get married in the "mayonnaise aisle" at their local grocery store, Fry's Food and Drug in Casa Grande, Arizona.

The two were both strolling down the aisle looking for mayonnaise when their paths crossed and it was love at first sight. Denis and Brenda Delgado decided to exchange phone numbers and the rest quickly fell into place.

Keep ReadingShow less

A metal detector hobbyist looking for treasure on the beach.

Joseph Cook, 37, is a popular metal detectorist on social media where he shares videos of the many treasures he finds on Florida beaches. But what’s even more engaging than his finds is the incredible excitement he brings to the hobby. It’s like watching Steve Irwin, but with a Florida accent.

Not only is his attitude infectious but he also makes a point of doing good when he finds lost items. He wears a necklace around his neck with multiple rings that he’s found to remind him of his mission to return lost treasures.

Recently, he told SWNS that he dug up "the biggest diamond I ever found” on the beach. "When I first found it I thought it would just be a nickel, but then I dug it up and it was just this big old diamond and platinum ring," he said.

Keep ReadingShow less

The strong, silent cliché.

One of the most pervasive male stereotypes in advertising is the strong, silent type. The most famous of these is the Marlboro Man, a dude alone on horseback with a pack of cigarettes and nothing around him but cattle and a wide-open prairie.

Tom Nakayama at the Center for Media Literacy says that this stereotype damages men because it presents a very limited form of masculinity. “In general, these concentrated views of manhood suggest the many ways in which advertising negatively affects men by narrowing the definition of what it means to be a man in American society,” Nakayama writes.

Keep ReadingShow less