Here’s why this South African musician played the guitar during his brain surgery

Nduta Waweru December 24, 2018
Photo: Musa Manzini/Facebook

A South African musician made headlines over the past week for playing the guitar during his brain surgery. 

Musa Manzini, a jazz musician, was kept awake during the six-hour operation at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital in Durban. According to the doctors, the decision to keep him awake and make him play his guitar was to preserve and restore his finger movements.

The medical technique, known as “awake craniotomy,”  helps doctors in delicate brain operations. 

“It increased the margin of safety for us, in that we could have real-time feedback on what we were doing,” said Dr Rohen Harrichandparsad, one of the neurosurgeons. 

The procedure was captured on video, which showed Manzini strumming away as the doctors worked on him.

“We had to ensure that whatever pathways he was using for music were preserved. There’s no single pathway, but a multitude that interact,” 
Harrichandparsad told The New York Times

According to Dr Basil Enicker, the other led neurosurgeon, the technique helps the doctors in removing the tumour and minisiming brain damage.

“In this way, we can test regions of the brain before they are removed. This allows for increased removal of the tumour, while minimising damage to the brain,” he said to IOL.

The decision was informed by Manzini’s career as a musician and music lecturer who depended on the dexterity of his fingers.

“The decision to perform an awake craniotomy rather than one under general anaesthesia was motivated by Dr Enicker’s concern to preserve and restore my finger movements, taking into consideration my career as a musician,” said Manzini, who has had a recurring tumour linked to a neurological condition he has had since 2006.

The awake craniotomy is not an uncommon procedure and Manzini hopes 
to take get back to the stage again once he fully recovers.

Last Edited by:Nduta Waweru Updated: December 24, 2018


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