Recently one of our ABI Coordinators was asked to observe brain surgery, this is not something that has happened to one of our team before, but here Corina tells us all about the experience.

How did this come about?

“When I was asked by the Neuropsychologist if I would like to observe Brain Surgery I didn’t have to think about what my answer would be, it was a definite yes, I wasn’t going to let this opportunity slip so I emailed two different surgeons at Great Ormond Street Hospital where I am based to ask if they would allow me to observe, they were very welcoming.  Not being medically trained, observing brain surgery would give me a huge insight into the medical procedure of the surgery and will enable me to relate to this when supporting families and also with medical professionals in my role as ABI Coordinator for Child Brain Injury Trust”.

So what was it like on the day?

“Finally the day has arrived and before I knew it I was in the scrubs prepping myself with my scrubs, to me this was all so new and fascinating and I was overwhelmed by the amount of staff in the scrubs, I had never appreciated how big the hospital really is and how many surgeries are carried out on a daily basis.  I had only ever visited the ground floor and wards. I couldn’t ever visualize the vast amount of surgery taking place on another level of the hospital.

Before surgery observations had been made by the ward staff during the night and on the morning of surgery. The patient’s temperature had risen in the morning therefore another check had to be made to ensure there was no infection.  After this check, his temperature was back to normal and the ward nurse assisted him, Mum and Dad into the anestheticroom. I stayed outside the room whilst Mum and Dad were in the room to avoid overcrowding and as soon as they left I was invited back it.

Mum and Dad were very tearful when they left the room to go back onto the ward until surgery has been successfully completed, I can now fully appreciate their anxieties watching such a huge medical team taking care of their child must have felt very overwhelming.  I would never had thought there needed to be so many professionals in the theatre”.

What was the surgery itself like?

“Once the young person was fully sedated he had to go down to CT for a scan, attended by the surgeon and lots of various medical professionals. The young person had focal epilepsy and was having surgery to implant electrodes which involved creating small holes in the skull with a drill, using a robot machine to mark the exact location from the CT scan. It really was amazing how technology can pin point exact locations from a CT scan.

The actual procedure of drilling small holes and implanting the electrodes was very short compared to all the preparation, the surgery took approximately 1 hour. During the procedure, there were 3 anesthetists and 3 surgeons, 2 of which carried out the procedure.  Thankfully the surgery was successful”

What happened after the surgery was over?

“After surgery, the young person was taken back onto the ward where the electrodes were hooked up to a monitor, this would remain in place for one week to check activity during seizures, this will help to locate the exact part of the brain where the seizures are occurring.  With this information, it will be decided whether or not to remove the part of the brain which is causing the seizures to cease them or whether it would be more damaging to remove that particular part of the brain”.

Now looking back how do you feel about that day?

“It was a fantastic opportunity to see what happens during surgery, I feel that the experience has given me a greater understanding of what patients go through during surgery and recovery. When I am supporting families as they go through the surgery process I will be able to better understand and support them.”