A 63-year-old woman turned an operation theatre into a concert hall by playing the flute while lying on the operation table with doctors and nurses surrounding her. Anna Henry was undergoing a deep brain stimulation procedure to reduce tremors in her hands due to a condition called essential tremor that runs in her family.
At Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, Anna underwent deep brain stimulation surgery Tuesday knowing that it was her final hope, as she had been dealing with it since childhood.
"It is brain surgery, but it's a way we can really improve a patient's life, quality of life, where otherwise they're going to be on medications that may have a modest effect on improving their tremor," Dr Albert Fenoy, neurosurgeon with the Mischer Neuroscience Institute at the hospital told TMC News.
Her surgery took place in two parts. Firstly, surgeons inserted electrodes into the thalamus that help in modulating and fine-tuning movement. Next, they implanted a rechargeable battery in her chest that's to be replaced only after nine years.
For the first part of the surgery, Anna had to remain awake so that doctors can see the effects of the electrodes. The anesthesiologist, however, administered a local anesthesia to the scalp in order to numb the pain.
Before the stimulation, her hands trembled so much that when she was handed a cup of water, the water splashed inside the cup. However, after the stimulation, the result was like flipping a switch. Her hand became stable and her writing appeared legible for the first time in decades, TMC reports.
She was handed her flute to test the stability of her hand. She lifted the instrument and treated everyone with a sweet melody. The room burst into applause after she finished playing it.
"[Deep brain stimulation] works amazingly well," said Mya Schiess of the Mischer Neuroscience Institute.
Schiess added: "If you have a tremor that is truly interfering with hand function, lifestyle, head or voice, honestly, there isn't a medicine out there that's going to really put you in a better state."