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Using Brain Teasers To Improve 'Wide-Awake' Open-Skull Surgery

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.

(Dierk Schaefer)
(Dierk Schaefer)


TURINHaving 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)

*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations

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Migrant Lives

How Nepal’s “Left-Behind” Children Of Migrants Hold Families Together

Children left to fend for themselves when their parents seek work abroad often suffer emotional struggles and educational setbacks. Now, psychologists are raising alarms about the quiet but building crisis.

How Nepal’s “Left-Behind” Children Of Migrants Hold Families Together

Durga Jaisi, 12, Prakash Jaisi, 18, Rajendra Ghodasaini, 6, and Bhawana Jaisi, 11, stand for a portrait on their family land in Thakurbaba municipality.

Yam Kumari Kandel

BARDIYA — It was the Nepali New Year and the sun was bright and strong. The fields appeared desolate, except the luxuriantly growing green corn. After fetching water from a nearby hand pump, Prakash Jaisi, 18, walked back to the home he shares with his three siblings in Bardiya district’s Banbir area, more than 500 kilometers (over 300 miles) from Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. As it was a public holiday in the country, all his friends had gone out to have fun. “I’d like to spend time with my friends, but I don’t have the time,” he says. Instead, Jaisi did the dishes and completed all the pending housework. Even though his exams are approaching, he has not been able to prepare. There is no time.

Jaisi’s parents left for India in December 2021, intending to work in the neighboring country to repay their house loan of 800,000 Nepali rupees (6,089 United States dollars). As they left, the responsibility of the house and his siblings was handed over to Jaisi, who is the oldest.

Just like Jaisi’s parents, 2.2 million people belonging to 1.5 million Nepali households are absent and living abroad. Of these, over 80% are men, according to the 2021 census on population and housing. The reasons for migration include the desire for a better future and financial status.

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