A 35-year-old musician in Rome, Italy recently played his saxophone for the entire nine hours of his own surgery to remove a brain tumor at Rome's Paideia International Hospital.
According to CBS news, Dr. Christian Brogna, a neurosurgeon and expert in awake surgery, led a highly specialized 10-member international team for the procedure, using state-of-the-art technology while performing the surgery. The tumor was removed successfully with no negative impacts on the patient.
"The tumor was located in a very, very complex area of the brain," said Brogna. "Moreover, the patient is left-handed. This makes things more complicated because the neural pathways of the brain are much more complicated."
The Patient had told the medical team that preserving his musical ability was essential to him. By playing the sax during the surgery, it allowed Dr. Brogna to map different functions of the brain as he operated.
"To play an instrument means that you can understand music, which is a high cognitive function. It means you can interact with the instrument, you can coordinate both hands, you can exercise memory, you can count — because music is mathematics — you can test vision because the patient has to see the instrument, and you can test the way the patient interacts with the rest of the team," he told CBS news.
The surgery was performed on a Monday and the patient was successfully released that Thursday.