Pop up brain surgery

At the end of October 2013 I was invited to join a fascinating project at the Manchester Science Festival. The group, led by Professor Roger Kneebone of Imperial College London were presenting a simulation of brain surgery. The story follows the treatment of a patient at the scene of a serious head injury, the results of a CT scan and surgery to remove an extradural Haematoma.

These blood clots are outside the brain and if removed quickly may not cause any secondary injury to the brain. Patients can make a full recovery with some even leaving hospital after only a day.

The surgery is realistic and volunteers are recruited to help remove part of the (model) patient’s skull and scrape out the jelly like blood.


Whilst my injury was not of this type I added a patient perspective, telling my story and looking at the similarities and differences between their fictional and my real case. The emergency treatment at the scene and the reconstructed surgery are performed by real doctors and the attention to detail is immense. Seeing the air ambulance team at work delivering treatment very similar to that which i received was humbling and moving.

I saw how patients are intubated and learnt  new word. A ‘bougie’ is the thin flexible wire used to feed the breathing tube into the patient’s wind pipe. Always find it amazing that such complex life-saving techniques are dependent on such simple items.

A more complex device was the drill used to make holes in the skull. A clutch mechanism in the bit means that if pressure on the tip drops it stops turning. This means that once through the skull the drill cuts out and can’t accidently carry on into the brain. Asked how surgeons avoided this with older devices the surgeon replied. “You’re just careful”

Look out for the brain surgery if it pops up near you!


The operating theatre

You can here professor Kneebone talking about the importance of perspective and his surgery projects here

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One Response to Pop up brain surgery

  1. Pingback: See the show | what's going on in his head?

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