Patient awake through brain surgery: Advanced procedure removed tumour

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A WOMAN who was kept awake during complex brain surgery has thanked doctors at Coventry’s University Hospital.

Tracy Webb, a British Masters Champion Hurdler from Rugby, spoke with doctors while she had a tumour removed from her brain. After the ‘awake craniotomy’ she took just three days to recover before being allowed home.

Mrs Webb, a registrar and mother of two, first noticed that she had a problem 18 months ago when her arm was getting tired from doing simple tasks such as picking up drinks. Her job as a registrar was affected as she found if difficult to grip a pen, crucial in her role registering births, deaths and marriages in Rugby.

After visiting her doctor she was referred to Dr Andrea Lindahl, consultant neurologist with interest in movement disorders at the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust. She noted that a previous suggestion that she had a condition which causes muscles to contract or twist was not right and ordered a brain scan. This scan revealed a tumour in Tracy’s ‘motor strip’ which was leading to weakness and problems in her right arm.

Dr Hiten Mehta, consultant neuro-radiologist and his team of specialist radiographers, carried out a sophisticated MRI scan of the brain which mapped the tumour and its close relationship to brain’s motor cortex - which controls movement in the right arm.

A team at the hospital made up of consultant neurosurgeons Hussien El-Maghraby, Shabin Joshi and consultant anaesthetist Robin Correa operated for two and a half hours to remove a large amount of the tumour.

Tracy said: “I am so grateful to the doctors and all the team at University Hospital, firstly for spotting the tumour and secondly for performing the operation so successfully. When Mr El-Maghraby explained that I would be awake during the operation on my brain I was quite apprehensive, but he was quick to explain the procedure in detail and I had total trust in him when he said it would be fine.

“In fact they were so happy with my progress that I was allowed home on the Friday after spending only three days in hospital, which is amazing.”

Mr El-Maghraby exlained: “Keeping the patient awake has the benefit of ensuring that other functioning parts of the brain are not affected.

“It is only down to the dedicated team at UHCW that we are able to perform such cutting-edge operations.”