Guitarist Plays Rock Songs During Brain Surgery

Coral Gables, FL – A professional guitarist helped surgeons remove a brain tumor by playing rock music during an awake craniotomy procedure last month.

Christian Nolen, a guitarist from Coral Gables, was diagnosed with a glioma on his right frontal lobe late last year after experiencing left-sided weakness and difficulty playing guitar. Doctors at the University of Miami’s Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center scheduled surgery to remove the tumor. They asked Nolen if he would be willing to play guitar during the procedure to test his dexterity.

“I’d only really heard of procedures of that nature being done in shows and movies,” Nolen told Fox News. “I felt like it was such a unique experience that I couldn’t pass up – especially with my motor skills being on the line.”

During the two-hour awake craniotomy in early January, doctors woke Nolen up mid-surgery and asked him to play songs by bands like Deftones and System of a Down while they operated. Keeping patients awake for this type of brain surgery allows doctors to monitor brain functions and ensure critical areas aren’t damaged.

“This is wild,” Nolen reportedly said once woken up. Surgeons were able to successfully remove the entire tumor without compromising Nolen’s guitar skills.

Nolen was discharged the day after surgery and is currently awaiting the final pathology results of the tumor. He will likely undergo follow-up radiation and chemotherapy treatment. Still, Nolen’s case demonstrates music’s unique role in aiding complex brain procedures.

“I felt like a rock star,” Nolen told reporters. “The doctors were excitedly running in while I had the guitar in my hands.”

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