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Anesthesiologist reveals unique tactic to calm young patient during awake craniotomy
Date:3/4/2013

ng the tumor.

“You’re literally within a millimeter of destroying that child's life, or giving her back to her family completely whole,” Muhonen said. “It’s very humbling to be in that position. You have to make the right decision and it certainly was facilitated by the way Marigold's speech area was uniquely mapped out.”

Patients singing pop songs during surgery is not a common occurrence in any operating room but neither is performing an awake craniotomy on a child, especially as young as she was at the time.

Awake craniotomies are complex procedures used to remove tumors that are within millimeters of functional areas of the brain that govern speech, motor skills and senses, also known as eloquent cortex. It allows the surgeon to react to patient feedback during surgery so critical parts of the brain suffer minimal damage. A fast-acting, short-term anesthetic is carefully administered while the surgeon opens the skull with a drill and exposes the brain. Once the patient wakes up, they don’t feel any pain because the brain lacks pain receptors.

In this case, the tumor was causing severe recurring seizures in the patient. Most children wouldn’t tolerate an awake craniotomy so surgeons have to be very selective in deciding which ones are mature enough to hold still and be cooperative during the procedure. It requires a great deal of trust between the patient, the family, the surgeon, neurologist and the anesthesiologist developed during multiple meetings and phone calls.

“We tell the parents that we are going to take care of their child the way we would take care of our own child in the operating room,” said Canton, the anesthesiologist. “The parents feel better when they understand that we all have children and we realize how stressful it is to give their child up to someone else. An essential component of being a

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