Surgeons in Italy are testing new techniques to improve general anesthesia-free brain surgery. Patients are “trained” ahead of time and, during the operation itself, made to answer quiz questions.
TURIN – Having an open dialogue with your surgeon is critical for a successful operation. But at Turin's Le Molinette Hospital, doctor-patient communication doesn't just take place before an operation is performed. Patients also speak up during surgery - while doctors open their skulls and start cutting away at their brains.
Thanks to scientific progress, brain surgery operations have been performed around the world for several years now without general anesthesia. With anesthesia, there's always a risk that some parts of the brain won't wake up again. A patient's chances of recovery, therefore, are improved when doctors forgo anesthesia.
At the northern Italian hospital, a team of neurosurgeons and neuropsychologists have been improving the process. They began with relatively straightforward operations and, step by step, took it to a more complex level of surgery.
For La Molinette hospital's "awake" surgery, the patient goes through a long period of preparation before the operation. Among other things, the "training" involves getting familiar with the operation room and lying on the operating table days before the operation.
And then during the operation itself, the patient is required to work alongside doctors. The patient is tested with word games that require him or her to match nouns with verbs: car with drive, water with swim. Each right answer gives a green light for doctors to continue the operation, allowing them to remove tumors, but not the healthy part of the patients' brains.
Read the full original article in Italian by Marco Accossato
Photo – (Dierk Schaefer)
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