Before arriving in the operating room, the woman couldn't move her left arm and her primary care doctors and ER docs found a "mass" on her brain imaging. I ordered more exquisite imaging (functional MRI), which revealed it was a little ball of abnormal brain tissue that no longer followed the rules and grew without respecting the brain's natural and elegant architecture. It was a tumor. Fortunately, it wasn't cancer. But it was in a very critical part of the brain.People are surprised when I say some parts of the brain are not as critical as others. We can remove those certain parts after a blood clot and people do well. On the other hand, some areas of the brain are so delicate that if you bump into any of them with a fine instrument, they can be permanently injured. This tumor was in the motor strip of the right parietal lobe (a half-inch-wide and seven-inch-long ribbon of brain tissue that sends the signals down to your left arm to move). This was a tricky spot to remove a tumor: You have to get the tumor tissue out and not bother the normal tissue that keeps her moving. She was left-handed, so the epicenter of my work was also the epicenter of her dominant hand function.
Be quick but don't hurry, I thought. After this step, the scalp was ready to peel back.
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