Operating on my brain? Carry on, I'll play my guitar

A 14mm hole was drilled into Mr Abhishek Prasad's skull under local anaesthesia and a specialised electrode passed into his brain.
MR ABHISHEK PRASAD, pointing to his surgical scars, on the surreal experience of being conscious on the operating table during the seven-hour procedure as his fingers slowly became more dexterous.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
A 14mm hole was drilled into Mr Abhishek Prasad's skull under local anaesthesia and a specialised electrode passed into his brain.
A 14mm hole was drilled into Mr Abhishek Prasad's skull under local anaesthesia and a specialised electrode passed into his brain.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

He feels no pain while under local anaesthesia in operation to cure cramping of his fingers

BANGALORE (India) • An Indian man who strummed the guitar as surgeons operated on his brain has demonstrated how the unusual procedure had cured the problem hindering his ability to play.

Mr Abhishek Prasad had been suffering from a neurological disorder that caused his fingers to cramp in one hand, preventing him from strumming properly, reported Agence France-Presse

"I thought the stiffness was because of over-practice. I took a break and tried again and realised that there was no respite from the stiffness. Some doctors told me it was muscle fatigue and I was given painkillers, multivitamins, antibiotics, physiotherapy," he said.

The 37-year-old software engineer sought treatment from numerous specialists before doctors at Bangalore's Bhagwan Mahaveer Jain Hospital recommended a procedure to reverse the condition known as "musician's dystonia".

It is marked by abnormal and involuntary flexion of muscles due to rigorous use. Mr Prasad told the BBC: "I was advised to undergo brain surgery, but I got scared. But my doctor Sharan Srinivasan gave me the confidence to do it."

Mr Prasad added that he felt "like a generator was on during the operation", but felt "no pain".

Dr Srinivasan, a stereotactic and functional neurosurgeon at the Jain Institute of Movement Disorders and Stereotactic Neurosurgery, conducted the operation on July 11.

LIKE A MIRACLE

I was amazed to see my fingers improve magically on the operating table itself. By the end of the surgery, my fingers were 100 per cent cured and I could move them like before.

MR ABHISHEK PRASAD, pointing to his surgical scars, on the surreal experience of being conscious on the operating table during the seven-hour procedure as his fingers slowly became more dexterous.

It cost around 200,000 rupees (S$4,200). He said: "During this entire surgery, Abhishek was fully awake and was playing the guitar, since this problem only comes when he tries to play. His feedback was very important for the doctors to get the exact location of the target to be lesioned."

Dr Srinivasan added: "This is a surgery where the part of the brain triggering abnormal tremors is destroyed by burning. Before the surgery, a special frame was fixed to his head with four screws going deep into the skull, following which an MRI was conducted."

The MRI images showed three coordinates for the target area in the brain, along with the entry point to the skull and the path to be followed during the surgery, reported The Times of India.

The problem area was determined to be 8cm to 9cm deep by the MRI images.

Subsequently, a 14mm hole was drilled into Mr Prasad's skull under local anaesthesia and a specialised electrode passed into the brain.

This electrode was then stimulated to confirm the right location and prevent complications, said Dr Srinivasan.

Mr Prasad described the surreal experience of being conscious on the operating table during the seven-hour procedure as his fingers slowly became more dexterous.

"I was amazed to see my fingers improve magically on the operatiing table itself. By the end of the surgery, my fingers were 100 per cent cured and I could move them like before," he told the Times of India newspaper.

Mr Prasad had the stitches removed on Thursday in hospital, where he thanked doctors and played a few tunes to demonstrate how well he had recovered.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 22, 2017, with the headline 'Operating on my brain? Carry on, I'll play my guitar'. Print Edition | Subscribe