Symphony musician plays violin during surgery to remove brain tumour

TORONTO — A symphony violinist played her instrument while surgeons removed a tumour from her brain during a surgery to ensure surgeons did not damage her motor skills.

Dagmar Turner, who plays violin for the Isle of Wight Symphony Orchestra, was diagnosed with a slow-growing glioma in 2013, after suffering a seizure during a symphony performance. Turner had radiation therapy but later decided on surgery after the tumour had “grown and become aggressive” in 2019.

The glioma was located in her right frontal lobe, near a sector that controls the fine movement in her left hand, according to a press release from Kings Cross Hospital in London, U.K.

Consultant neurosurgeon Keyoumars Ashkan of King’s College Hospital performed a craniotomy to open Turner’s skull, and then brought her out of anesthesia during the Jan. 31 surgery to play violin while her tumour was removed, supervised by the anesthesiologist and a therapist.

Ashkan is quoted in the hospital release saying that while patients have often been asked to perform language tests during tumour removals, this was the “first time he had ever had a patient play an instrument.”

Turner went home three days after the procedure and will continue to be monitored by a local hospital on the Isle of Wight.

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