MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – Waking up during surgery is one of the many fears patients have before going under the knife. But, imagine having your skull opened up and brain surgery completed all while you were awake and talking.
That’s just what surgeons at the University of Miami Hospital did in a rare surgery to remove a brain tumor from a South Florida man. The procedure is known as awake craniotomy surgery.
The procedure is performed in a select number of hospitals in the United States. During surgery to remove certain brain tumors, neurologists use brain-mapping techniques to identify and avoid injury to areas of the brain that control language, motor and sensory function.
“The left side of the brain which is the temporal region he had a surgery to remove a tumor while he was awake,” Dr. Ricardo Komotar, assistant professor of neurological surgery at the University of Miami Hospital, said.
Ray Becarria underwent the procedure at the University of Miami Hospital after weeks of being unable to properly speak.
“The words just wouldn’t come out I just couldn’t get my thought process going,” Ray said.
And his symptoms only got worse.
“A week later it got bad it got to a point where I couldn’t read.”
Mapping techniques using mild electrical current are employed to locate the precise areas that control specific skills such as speech, all while the patient is awake in the operating room.
If the mild stimulation hinders the task of speaking, reading or moving, that area of the brain is marked and left untouched.
The procedure entails a carefully orchestrated team approach between the neurological surgeon, the neurologist pinpointing the mapped brain areas, and the anesthesiologist.
It’s been only 13 days since Ray went under the knife and his progress is remarkable.
“I feel progress every day; I feel better I can speak better,” Ray said.
Just 36 hours after the surgery Ray was discharged from the hospital. He plans on going back to school in the next few weeks and hopes to one day become a professor in the medical field.