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Music during Brain Surgery

June 4th, 2017 · No Comments · how the brain works, music and brain cancer

Have you ever wondered about music during brain surgery?  For decades I’ve been reading about people who play violin, saxophone, guitar, even bagpipes during surgery.  I’ve even seen a video of a man singing an operatic aria during brain surgery…and doing so beautifully!  Why does this happen so frequently?

Just this morning, I received a message from a lady who was having knee replacement surgery.  Here’s what she said “I woke up in the middle of my knee replacement surgery, which was being done with spinal anesthesia and twilight sleep. I didn’t feel pain, but really didn’t want to hear the sound of the electric saw and drill the surgeons were using on my leg. It wasn’t supposed to happen–the anesthesiologist wasn’t paying attention. And she was very apologetic when I spoke up and said that I’d really rather not be awake.”

Imagine if she had had the Surgical Serenity Solutions!  Even if she began to regain consciousness, she would not hear the drilling, sawing, or conversations.  Of course, during brain surgery, one cannot wear headphones!

So, is there a purpose to doing brain surgery under regional anesthesia?  According to a website called,

“The decision to open a human body isn’t a light one for doctors to make. So are the physicians and patients featured in the videos below totally nuts to be playing musical instruments, singing, reading and chatting during surgeries?

Not at all. Seems odd, right? But there are some perks to staying awake during surgery. A patient who can answer questions in real-time and respond to stimuli can help guide a doctor during complicated procedures.”

Not only that, but some brain tumors have spread throughout the brain and do not have clear borders.  Awake brain surgery can assist in shrinking these tumors.   So the doctors can seriously benefit from being able to talk to patients whose brain tumors affect their speech and cause tremors, but also, in the case of gliomas.

Here are some really fascinating videos from the article on awake brain surgery.


I believe that it’s important for us to understand this phenomenon and, at the same time, understand that the brain has absolutely no nerve endings, therefore it can’t feel pain when the brain is operated on.  However, the scalp does and the bone does, so local anesthetics must be used to numb those areas in order to get to the brain.


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