Watch: Man Plays Guitar While Getting Brain Surgery


Greg Lake famously played guitar on Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s Brain Salad Surgery. South African jazz bassist Musa Manzini miraculously played guitar while having his own brain operated on so doctors wouldn’t make a salad of his grey and white matter.

Pardon the horrible pun. I’m done now.

The musician recently underwent surgery to have a tumor removed from his brain, and his doctors asked that he play guitar during the procedure. The New York Times explains the reason behind the bizarre request:

“The technique, known as ‘awake craniotomy,’ allows doctors to operate on delicate areas of the brain — like the right frontal lobe, the site of Mr. Manzini’s tumor — without causing damage. Presumably, had he hit a wrong note, it would have been an immediate signal for the surgeons to probe elsewhere.

“’It can be very difficult to tell the difference between the tumor and normal brain tissue,’ said Dr. Basil Enicker, a specialist neurosurgeon who led the operation at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital, in the coastal city of Durban. ‘Once you’re near a critical area, you can pick it up early, because he will tell you.’”

While the idea of operating on the brain of a conscious patient might seem novel, the technique has been used for at least 8,000 years and began to pick up traction in the modern medical community in the 1930s. In the last few years there have been a handful of patients who have played instruments while under the knife as a means of surgical failsafe [more on those at NYT].

Mr. Manzini had previously undergone two surgeries for the tumor, which was first discovered in 2006. Doctors estimated they were able to remove 90% of it this time around, and Manzini is currently in recovery.

You can watch footage of the procedure below, and listen to some of Manzini’s original music underneath.

[via Kerrang]

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