Doctors who were operating on the brain of a South African musician for a brain tumour had a rare request – that he strum his guitar the entire time. Musa Manzini, a jazz bassist, was kept awake during the six-hour operation partly so that doctors could preserve and restore his finger movements.

The operation took place in at Chief Albert Luthuli Hospital in Durban. A video posted by News 24 showed him playing an acoustic guitar on the operating table. Known as “awake craniotomy,” the technique allowed the doctors, led by Basil Enicker and Rohen Harrichandparsad, to perform the surgery on a sensitive part of the brain. It involved identifying certain areas of the brain using electrodes placed on the surface.

“In this way, we can test regions of the brain before they are removed. This allows for increased removal of the tumour, while minimising damage to the brain,” Enicker told IOL. Manzini said he is looking forward to performing on the stage once again after making a full recovery.

Brain surgery does not always require anaesthesia because the brain does not have pain receptors. Only the skull is numbed, using local anaesthetic.