UK-first as patient plays violin while undergoing brain surgery

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Martha Fairlie

A woman has successfully had a brain tumour removed while playing her violin during the procedure in a UK-first.

Professional musician Dagmar Turner underwent brain surgery at King's College Hospital, London to remove a benign tumour.

After starting the operation under general anaesthetics, surgeons woke Ms Turner to play her instrument - helping the medics avoid the area of her brain used in playing the violin.

Dagmar Turner was playing her violin again just two and a half weeks after her surgery.

Ms Turner, a member of the Isle of Wight symphony orchestra, was diagnosed with the tumour in 2013.

In November 2019, doctors decided they would need to operate.

In consultation before the surgery, Ms Turner says she asked whether she was right or left handed to ascertain which side would be affected by the surgery.

The professional musician said after telling the medical team about her livelihood as a violinist, she suggested she play during the surgery.

She told ITV News: "I suggested actually, if they don't want me to play the violin during the surgery".

Ms Turner says she remembers being told to play by staff in the surgery room. Credit: King's College London

Neurosurgeon Professor Keyoumars Ashkansaid it was all about the "finer details" of playing an instrument that they were wary of.

"Length of the string, pressure on the string, all those fast movements moving from one string to another.

"So that is what was unusual for us".

Two and a half weeks on from her surgery, Ms Turner is back playing the violin.

She told ITV News it means everything to her to still be able to play the violin: "This is my life, this is what I do in my spare time and I enjoy it an awful lot".