Brain Surgery While Preparing Stuffed Olives

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Brain Surgery

A 60-year-old Italian woman has made headlines due to her preparing stuffed olives during her own brain surgery. Neurosurgeon Roberto Trignani says that this method “allows us to monitor the patient while we work on their brain functions and to calibrate our actions.” The woman is doing well after having brain surgery.

What Is Brain Surgery?

Brain surgery is an extremely complicated procedure. Doctors will have their patients do different activities during surgery to ensure that the cognitive and hand movements are not affected. This allows doctors to see the areas of the brain people are using and work around those areas. With brain surgery being a very delicate procedure, it is very important for doctors to be able to

Why Do People Do Activities While Having Brain Surgery?

Patients have been reported to do a lot of different things during this type of surgery. One man played the violin while he was being operated on. Another person has reported they watched cartoons during their surgery.

The woman had to have a tumor removed from her left temporal lobe. She had the procedure done at the Ancona’s Riunti hospital. The neurosurgeons announced her surgery “went very well.” The whole surgery lasted two and a half hours. It is reported the woman made 90 stuffed olives in one hour. She prepared the “Ascoli-style” olives, a Marche region (Italy) delicacy. The woman pitted the olives, then stuffed them with meat and cheese. She then delicately rolled the olives into bread crumbs.

The Benefits of Doing Activities During Brain Surgery

Dr. Trignani is the head of the Neurosurgery Department. In the past five years, he has performed 60 similar surgeries. During all of the operations, the patients were awake and performed different tasks. Doing this allows the doctors to “calibrate our actions,” Dr. Trignani stated. Depending on the type of “Awake Surgery” a patient has to have, decides what type of activity the doctors need the patient to do.

In the case of the Italian woman, they were working on the part of the brain that controls speech and complex movement for the left side of the body. After having a discussion with the woman, they decided that stuffing olives was the way to go. This decision was made based on familiar activities for the patient. Doctors need the patients to do something that they are well versed in doing. Doing so allows doctors to work around the areas that control the different functions, to properly eradicate the patient’s issue.

This allows the patient to be slightly less aware of their surroundings. Being in the hospital and in an unfamiliar environment can make people distressed. If they are able to do the procedure while doing something they like makes them more at ease.

By Sheena Robertson


BBC: Italian woman prepares olives during brain tumour operation
Daily Mail: Food for the soul: Italian woman, 60, prepares stuffed olives while undergoing brain surgery
CBS: Italian woman preps 90 stuffed olives, a regional specialty, during open brain surgery
HealthLine: Brain Surgery

Top and Featured Image Courtesy of Jenn Durfey’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License