It’s scary to think of having to undergo brain surgery. And what about having the procedure done while you are still awake? Known as “awake craniotomy,” this medical procedure is helping doctors in delicate operations and saving lives.
The procedure was done for the first time at the Nairobi Hospital last month to remove a brain tumor while the patient was fully awake in order for the neurosurgeons to have real-time feedback on what they were doing.
The surgery was led by neurosurgeons Aamir Qureshi and Mahmood Qureshi, with the services of an anesthetic specialist and a nursing team, the Nation reported.
The team used local anesthesia to numb various parts of the head and the patient was kept awake during the procedure to speak and answer questions. The patient was asked to name objects and move the arm or leg controlled by the brain near the area being operated upon, the report said.
During “awake craniotomy,” if the patient suddenly stops speaking or unable to move the limb after an area of the brain is stimulated, neurosurgeons will know they are operating around an important area and hence avoid any damage to it, Dr. Qureshi explained.
At the end of the day, the team was successful, and Dr. Qureshi attributed this to the top-notch technology available at The Nairobi Hospital including Intra-Operative Ultrasound evaluation, Neuromonitoring technology and Neuronavigation — a kind of GPS system which guided the team during surgery. Trained specialists at the hospital were also part of the team.
In the late 1800s when surgery began, it was often met with infections and other complications that sometimes resulted in death. With the absence of improved technologies, early surgeries were without recent advanced techniques, while anesthesia became common only in the mid-to-late 1800s.
By the 1900s, the risk of losing one’s life after surgery was less than 50 per cent. Since then, surgery has progressed, leading to fewer complications and improved outcomes. The surgical field has in recent times witnessed some mind-blowing incisions that have saved precious lives and transformed others. Awake brain surgery, which has become a more commonplace procedure for doctors to remove tumors that would otherwise be inoperable, was recently performed in South Africa.
Musa Manzini, a jazz musician, was kept awake during the six-hour operation at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital in Durban in December 2018 and allowed to play his guitar. According to the doctors, the decision to keep him awake and make him play his guitar was to preserve and restore his finger movements.