Patient kept awake and talking during neurosurgery at McLaren Bay Region

supramarginal gyrus tumor

McLaren Bay Region’s neurosurgery team on Tuesday, January 9, 2018 completed an awake craniotomy procedure, the first of its kind at the hospital.

When Melissa Dew-Sprague first began experiencing headaches, she did not know it would eventually lead to being kept alert and awake while undergoing neurosurgery.

After beginning in 2012, Dew-Sprague’s headaches increased in intensity over time, with one lasting six months. After multiple trips to the emergency room in her hometown of Standish, Michigan, Dew-Sprague was transferred to McLaren Bay Region under the care of cranial neurosurgeon Sunil Manjila, MD.

supramarginal gyrus lesion

“Though Melissa has multiple benign lesions in her brain, her intense headaches were centralized in one region, pointing directly to one specific lesion in her left cerebral hemisphere just above her receptive speech area,” Dr. Manjila said. “This made it clear that removal of this lesion would provide relief from her headaches.”

Because of the location of the painful lesion and other factors, Dr. Manjila determined an awake craniotomy surgery would be the best fit for Dew-Sprague. An awake craniotomy is an operation performed in the same manner as a conventional craniotomy, but with the patient awake during part of the procedure.

“The lesion is located in the supramarginal gyrus, which is responsible for articulation of words,” Dr. Manjila said. “When working with eloquent parts of the brain, there can be a risk of stroke or loss of speech, and a surgery where the patient is partially awake helps us provide better outcomes.” Studies have shown that awake craniotomies help protect speech function after surgery and often allow shorter recovery times than a traditional craniotomy.

Dr. Manjila worked with an extensive team to plan the complex surgery. Dew-Sprague’s care team included Anesthesiologist Lisa Cooper, MD; Radiologist Donald LaBarge III, MD;