In what could be described as an unusual operation, surgeons in India's Bengaluru have successfully "burned" parts of a techie-turned-musician's brain to correct a neurological disorder while the 32-year-old strummed his guitar on the operation table. Musician's dystonia involves abnormal and involuntary flexion of muscles, due to rigorous use. The medical condition had cramped three fingers on the man's left hand for which the surgery was done.
A year and half ago, the musician suffered from his first cramps while playing his guitar.
As part of the operation Dr Sharan Srinivasan, a stereotactic and functional neurosurgeon at the Mahaveer Jain Institute of Movement Disorders and Stereotactic Neurosurgery, asked the patient to keep strumming his guitar while they conducted the operation. When the doctors burned parts of his brain it triggered the abnormal muscles so the man was playing the guitar that would help in finding the exact location. His love for guitar led him to learn to play the musical instrument.
A special frame with four screws was fixed to his head that dug deep into his skull. These MRI images showed three coordinates of the target area in the brain (8-9cm deep, in this case) along with the entry point to the skull and the path to be followed during surgery.
The TOI report claimed that the man is now cured. "Based on these coordinates, a 14mm hole was drilled into the skull under local anaesthesia and a specialized electrode was passed into the brain following which it was stimulated to confirm the right location and prevent complications", said a doctor.
Doctors said that witnessing the man's fingers improve while playing the guitar lying on the operating table was an incredible experience.
'By the end of the surgery, my fingers were 100 per cent cured and I could move them like before'.
Patients playing music during complex brain surgery to provide immediate feedback to surgeons about possible effects on brain function is not a new thing. Within three days of surgery, he walked out of the hospital to continue his life as a guitarist.