A UK-based musician proved that after playing the violin in the middle of a brain tumor operation as seen in a new video, classical music stimulates the mind in more than one way.
The 20-second clip shows Dagmar Turner, 53, of the Isle Of Wight, performing amazingly complex scales on her instrument as doctors track her exposed brain. The unconventional treatment took place at King’s College Hospital in southern London.
The music monologue was not intended to serenade the surgeons but they asked Turner play her instrument to make sure the musical talents of the talented violinist during a tumor removal were not impaired.
Turner who is mother of one was diagnosed with a slow-growing brain tumor after having suffered a seizure at a concert in 2013.
The tumor was dangerously close to parts of her brain in her right frontal lobe which were responsible for managing delicate gestures in her left hand. Such areas are critical for playing the violin, and their range from the tumor was as small as a credit card at some points.
It was a Catch-22, as the violinist thought it would also make her incapable of performing what she did.
Turner finally agreed to surgery last year after the tumor began to swell to a whopping 8 by 4 centimeters (3 by 11⁄2 inches), following sessions on radiotherapy. Luckily, “we knew how important the violin is to Dagmar,” says neurosurgeon Keyoumars Ashkan, himself an accomplished pianist.
“The violin is my passion. I have been playing since I was 10,” Turner said in a news release in February 18. “The idea of losing my ability to play has been heart-breaking.”
This innovative approach was created by Dr Keyoumars Ashkan, a neurosurgeon. “Every year we conduct about 400 resections (tumor removals), frequently requiring rousing patients to perform language tests, but this was the first time I had a patient playing an instrument,” he said in the news release.
The surgeons spent two hours carefully mapping out the brain to determine the parts that were triggered by play. Turner herself suggested that the instrument be played during surgery.
Throughout the operation, the surgeons opened the top of the skull of the anesthetized artist before waking her to perform the sonata of mid-surgery, all while observing her brain. Turner recalls how the surgeons gave her the violin and shortly after she regained consciousness they said “Play loud now”.
Fortunately the operation has been a success. The team succeeded in removing over 90% of the tumor, including all areas suspected of aggressive activity, while preserving full function in her left hand.