SA jazz musician stays awake during brain surgery

JAZZ musician Musa Manzini plays his guitar during brain surgery to help the doctors monitor his finger movements.

JAZZ musician Musa Manzini plays his guitar during brain surgery to help the doctors monitor his finger movements.

Published Dec 20, 2018


Durban - A rare awake craniotomy was performed on a South African jazz musician to remove a recurring brain tumour last week at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital in Durban. It was a case of life imitating art as a similar procedure was performed in Grey's Anatomy where Wilmer Valderrama played the role of Kyle Diaz, a M.S patient. 

Musa Manzini was awake during the six-hour operation to avoid paralysis or loss of functions in the part of the brain that controls voluntary movement.

Manzini said he was made to play a guitar during the procedure.

The craniotomy was performed by a team of specialist resident neurosurgeons led by Dr Basil Enicker and Dr Rohen Harrichandparsad.

“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.

Enicker said an awake craniotomy was a technique used for patients undergoing surgical procedures in “eloquent” areas of the brain.

“Eloquent brain is a part of the brain tissue that performs an important function and if removed results in paralysis or sensory or speech problems.”

He explained that the awake approach facilitated the recording of the electrical activity of the brain from electrodes placed directly on its exposed surface.

This helped to accurately identify those areas of the brain which controlled motor function and speech.

“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.”

Enicker said since Manzini was an award-winning musician who played several instruments and was also a music lecturer, it was important to preserve motor function and the dexterity of his fingers.

“We also wanted to ensure that we removed as much of the brain tumour as possible, hence he was an ideal candidate for an awake craniotomy,” he said.

Manzini said his experience at the hospital demonstrated that there were many dedicated healthcare professionals who went the extra mile for patients.

“It’s also important to highlight the world-class services that South African health facilities are able to provide,” he said.

Enicker said this type of brain surgery was only performed in selected neurosurgical centres worldwide and in South Africa, as it required input from a multidisciplinary team.

“We are fortunate at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital to have been able to assemble an excellent team of experts to ensure a successful outcome.”

Enicker said Manzini was in recovery and doing well.

The Mercury

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