10 year old girl plays Candy Crush while Chennai surgeons remove her brain tumour

10 year old girl plays Candy Crush while Chennai surgeons remove her brain tumour. Representational image

Chennai/ Tamil Nadu, September 12: As the surgeons were busy removing the tumour from the most sensitive part of 10 year old’s brain, the girl was engaged with her favourite game on her uncle’s cellphone. Surgery was effectively carried out at SIMS Hospital in Chennai last Wednesday.

The little girl Nandini is a class V student. Also, she is a Bharatanatyam dancer. With complaints of sudden onset of fits, she had been brought to the hospital. Scanning the brain revealed that she had a tumour in the most important of the brain. It controls the mobility of left half of the body.

Dr Roopesh Kumar, SIMS Hospital neurosurgeon, had told Nandini’s parents that if the tumour grew further, it would result in paralysis.

The surgery could be done through a conventional procedure called craniotomy. Using special, a disc of bone is removed from the skull to make way for surgeons in to the brain when the patient remains conscious.

Dr Roopesh said, “I did not want to go in for the conventional method of removing the tumour. It was in the sensitive part of the brain and if we accidentally touched a wrong nerve, it could cause complete paralysis of left half of her body.”

Finally, doctors decided not to step back but move forward with the same procedure by keeping the patient awake and alert. “That way, I will know exactly which areas of your brain control those functions and avoid them,” said Dr Roopesh.

Dr Suresh Bapu, SIMS Institute of Neurosciences director, told the awake surgery is done in nearly 2% of the brain tumour patients who are adults, but is rarely seen in children. As neurons in the brain don’t have pain receptors, patients won’t feel any pain during surgery.

Nandini’s parents were initially reluctant to proceed with the awake surgery. Surgeons then took the help of patient’s uncle, who is a doctor at Puducherry, in order to convince the parents.

According to media reports, Dr uncle said, “I was in the theatre when they removed the tumour. Nandini was playing Candy Crush on my cellphone. She moved her hands and legs when we asked her to do so. The surgeon had to make sure that the point he is operating on does not affect her mobility. She was brave.”

The family were tensed about the post surgical stress. But doctors could convince them with the previous studies made by medical literature which depicted such surgeries safe for children. Dr uncle added, “it’s rare in children, but we did have enough evidence.”

Following up post surgery case studies of seven children aged between 8 and 16, World Neurosurgery (a medical journey) in June 2017 had published the psychiatric and psychological impact of the awake brain tumour surgeries in children.

The results claim that no child showed signs of post-traumatic stress disorder despite their parents expressed anxiety. These studies gave confidence to the entire team, said neuro anesthetist Dr Sudhakar Subramaniam. He stood beside Nandini through out the three and a half hour surgery.

Concluding the surgery, doctors ensured that she was able to move her hands and legs. She got discharged two days after the surgery. Nandini told doctors that within few days she would continue her Bharatanatyam practise.