The always excellent ABC Radio All in the Mind has just had a particularly compelling edition where they covered a neurosurgery operation to fix a particularly dangerous type of problem – an arteriovenous malformation or AVM – in a young woman named Kia.
An AVM is a tangle of veins and arteries meaning that the usually separate arterial (oxygen rich) and venous (oxygen depleted) blood can become mixed or doesn’t flow properly.
The problem is usually present from birth owing to a problem in development, and when intact, might not cause any noticeable symptoms.
However, AVMs are known to be fragile and there is a high risk that the AVM might bleed or cause an aneurysm – potentially causing death or serious brain injury.
Therefore, if treatable (and some are so big, complex or fragile that they can’t be treated) surgeons will often opt to risk an operation to remove the AVM to prevent any catastrophes in the future.
You’d think that radio wouldn’t be a good medium to cover a surgical procedure but the programme makes for compelling listening as the neurosurgeon, Professor Jeffrey Rosenfeld, narrates each stage as the operation progresses.
The patient and other staff also describe their hopes and fears, as well as their role in the treatment.
One of the most striking things is the sound of the drill as it cuts into the skull.
Link to AITM on ‘Brain Surgery – Live on the Wireless!’