UK patient plays violin during unusual brain surgery
Dagmar Turner, a violinist for the Isle of Wight Symphony Orchestra, plays violin during surgery to remove a tumour from her brain, January 31, 2020. (King's College Hospital)
The Associated Press
Published Wednesday, February 19, 2020 9:30AM EST
LONDON -- Surgeons at King's College Hospital in London removed a brain tumour from a woman who played the violin during the procedure.
Doctors for violinist Dagmar Turner, 53, mapped her brain before the surgery to identify areas that were active when she played the instrument and those responsible for controlling language and movement.
Doctors then woke her in mid-procedure so she could play to "ensure the surgeons did not damage any crucial areas of the brain that controlled Dagmar's delicate hand movements," the hospital said in a statement.
"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," said Prof. Keyoumars Ashkan, her neurosurgeon. "We managed to remove over 90% of the tumour, including all the areas suspicious of aggressive activity, while retaining full function in her left hand."
Turner, who plays in Isle of Wight Symphony Orchestra and various choral societies, left the hospital three days later and hopes to return to her orchestra soon. She was full of praise for the efforts of Ashkan, a fellow music lover.
"The thought of losing my ability to play was heart-breaking but, being a musician himself, Prof. Ashkan understood my concerns," she said. "He and the team at King's went out of their way to plan the operation -- from mapping my brain to planning the position I needed to be in to play."