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Man played System Of A Down and Deftones songs on guitar while having brain surgery

A cancer patient has played the guitar to pass the time during an operation to remove a tumour in his head.

Christian Nolen played some Deftones and System Of A Down tunes on his six string at the request of his neurological team. The Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine wanted to remove the tumour as best as they could, they told Fox News Digital, but needed Nolen to be awake in order to avoid major damage.

“When a tumour is involving or near a critical part of the brain — something that controls the ability to speak or understand language or move — we want to do the surgery awake to continually monitor the patient, so you know if you start to violate normal brain functions,” said Ricardo Komotar, M.D. He is the director of the brain tumour program at Sylvester.

“The surgeries actually become much more dangerous because you can take out a tumour that involves normal brain function and cause real harm without knowing it,” he continued.

Serj Tankian of System Of A Down. CREDIT: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

In order to monitor the effects of the operation, Komotar asked Nolen to play the guitar during the operation, saying there was “no better way”.

Nolen, who received an ‘awake craniotomy’, said the unusual operation was “quite overwhelming”, including fighting the natural urge to sit up: “I just had to breathe and stay calm,” he said. He also told Fox News Digital he played a selection of songs from Deftones and System of a Down, calling it “wild”.

According to Komotar, music-playing during brain surgery isn’t limited to guitar. So long as the activity doesn’t increase pressure in the head, patients can play music during the operation. Singing, for instance, has been known to help surgeons monitor patients’ abilities to form and understand words if they are removing tumours from brain areas involving language.

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