Mumbai Doctors save patient's speech and memory in unique awake brain surgery
Mumbai, 24th February 2021: Doctors at Fortis Hospital performed a unique awake brain craniotomy to save a man from being mute for the rest of his life. 40-year-old, Ravindra Chopade was suffering from focal seizures and word-finding difficulty. While his family was unable to understand the real cause of his problem, they visited Dr Gurneet Singh Sawhney, Senior Consultant – Neurosurgery, Fortis Hospital, Mulund to find a definite diagnosis. His brain MRI revealed a large left frontal tumour in the speech area. After which, the doctor got a functional MRI done which specifically defined the speech area and found that this was a low-grade malignant tumor; complete tumor removal could cure the patient. The challenge was to remove this tumour without affecting his speech. So, the only option left was to perform an 'awake brain craniotomy', wherein the patient is asked to perform a series of speaking, reading, and movement tests while stimulating the exposed brain.
"I had a unique experience; never knew that such procedures were possible in India. Although I was nervous in the beginning when the doctors told me that they would remove the tumor from my brain while I was awake, the doctors gave me a lot of comfort during the entire surgery. I feel much better and confident now", express Ravindra.
Awake brain craniotomy is a rare neurosurgical technique that is available at very few medical centers in India. This type of craniotomy allows a surgeon to remove a brain tumor while the patient is awake, to avoid brain damage. The patient is given a scalp block: An injection to block pain and local anesthesia to numb the scalp. The technique needs expertise, proficiency and special infrastructure. The team of doctors who operated on the patient was headed by Dr Gurneet Singh Sawhney, Senior Consultant – Neurosurgery, Fortis Hospital, Mulund
"The procedure involved intraoperative neuro mapping. While operating, we asked the patient to speak phrases and count numbers. While the patient was speaking, particular areas in the brain were stimulated to check for speech arrest. This helped us identify the crucial speech area. In such cases, the surgical team needs to be extremely prepared for all types of complications. Clinical proficiency is, therefore, crucial. Moreover, the role of the anesthesiologist is very significant. India needs a lot more centres to perform such complex cases. We are very proud that our team at Fortis has the infrastructure to explore such a complex arena. However, the success of it lies in the teamwork and clinical competence", said Dr Gurneet.
Post-operation, Ravindra was discharged within 3 days. He underwent speech therapy for one week after which, he gained significant improvement & confidence, and has returned to his daily routine.