Woman Fiddles During Her Own Brain Surgery

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Watch a Musician Play Violin During Brain Surgery

by Brigit Katz/Smithsonianmag.com

In the fall of 2019, Dagmar Turner was told that a tumor that had been growing in her brain for years had become large and aggressive—and would require surgery. The mass sat on her right frontal lobe, close to an area that controls the fine movements of the left hand.

The possibility that surgery might damage this part of the brain was a major concern: Turner, a violinist who plays with the Isle of Wight Symphony Orchestra, relies on her left hand to regulate the lengths of the instrument’s strings, thereby producing different pitches.

Fortunately, the patient had an idea.

“I suggested, actually, if they want me to play the violin during the surgery,” she tells ITV News.

This week, King’s College Hospital in London, where the surgery was performed, released remarkable footage from the operating room. As doctors work behind a plastic sheet, Dagmar, lying on the operating table, performs melodies on her violin. Over the course of the procedure, she played music by Gustav MahlerGeorge Gershwin and the Spanish singer-songwriter Julio Iglesias, reports Guy Faulconbridge​ for Reuters.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve seen this before with a guy playing a sax. For non musicians they talk with the patient and sometimes have him or her read. This is to make sure they aren’t taking out a needed part of the brain.
    I wonder what they would do if the patient was a concert pianist.