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Patient plays violin while surgeons remove brain tumour

Posted on over 4 years ago by Laurentina Kennedy

Innovation Rd (002)


A patient at King’s College Hospital in London played the violin while surgeons removed a tumour from her brain.

The unusual approach was taken to ensure areas of the patient’s brain responsible for delicate hand movement and coordination – crucial components when playing violin – were not damaged during the procedure.

Dagmar Turner, 53, a management consultant from the Isle of Wight, was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2013.

When non-surgical treatment was not successful a decision was made for an operation in 2019.

The committed violinist, who plays in Isle of Wight Symphony Orchestra and various choral societies, was worried she might lose her music skills as a result of the operation.


Doctors at King's College London devised a means to reduce the risk of damage to what they call "delicate hand movements" by waking her up mid-procedure so she could play.


Professor Keyoumars Ashka, a consultant neurosurgeon at the hospital said this was the first time a patient played an instrument during a procedure despite performing around 400 tumour removals a year.

Professor Ashka said: “We knew how important the violin is to Dagmar so it was vital that we preserved function in the delicate areas of her brain that allowed her to play.

"We managed to remove over 90% of the tumour, including all the areas suspicious of aggressive activity, while retaining full function in her left hand.”

Dagmar Turner added, “The violin is my passion; I’ve been playing since I was 10 years old.

"The thought of losing my ability to play was heart-breaking but, being a musician himself, Prof Ashkan understood my concerns."

The surgery was a success, and the patient was discharged three days later.