Violinist Plays During Her Own Brain Surgery

Photo Credit: YouTube

As Dagmar Turner’s surgeons operated on her brain at King’s College Hospital in London, she did the thing that was most important to her–she played her violin.

A video made of the surgery shows Turner drawing her bow back and forth across the violin’s strings as the surgeons continued operating behind a plastic sheet to remove a brain tumor.

Her doctors purposely woke her in the middle of the operation and had her play so they knew they weren’t interfering with the parts of her brain that controlled the fine movements necessary to play.

Photo Credit: YouTube

In a press release, King’s College neurosurgeon Keyoumars Ashkan said,

“We knew how important the violin is to Dagmar, so it was vital that we preserved function in the delicate areas of her brain that allowed her to play.”

Turner, 53, had lived with the slow growing tumor ever since doctors discovered it in 2o13. Recently, the growth became more aggressive and Turner decided to move forward with surgery to remove it.

She told ITV News that doctors explained since the tumor was on the right side of her brain, it would only affect function on the left side of her body. But when she explained she made her livelihood playing the violin, doctors came up with a plan to minimize risk to her hand’s functioning.

In their statement, the hospital said,

“Prior to Dagmar’s operation they spent two hours carefully mapping her brain to identify areas that were active when she played the violin and those responsible for controlling language and movement.”

Check out the video. It really is amazing!

Turner said in the hospital press release,

“The violin is my passion; I’ve been playing since I was 10 years old.

The thought of losing my ability to play was heart-breaking but, being a musician himself, Prof. Ashkan understood my concerns.”

Ashkan called the surgery a success saying that almost all of the tumor was removed without interruption to her playing.

Mapping a patient’s brain before surgery uses technology called functional MRI. This map gives doctors critical information about how a person’s brain works when comprehending certain concepts and performing certain tasks.

When doctors are making decisions by the millimeter, access to this knowledge ensures their patient will recover with the ability to follow their passions exactly as before.

Amazing medicine at work!