Saturday, 26 January 2013

Neurosurgery Placement


I LOVED this placement.
- i have never considered surgery as a career, but if i had to do any surgery, this would probably be it.

From my experience so far, as a medical student you don't normally get to feel as part of the surgical team as much as you would if you were doing a medical rotation. This all changed with Neurosurgery.

On my very first day, my reg was on call and we went straight to theatre to put in a VP shunt. This was already quite exciting, as I had literally just done that lecture the night before so it all seemed pretty relevant, but perhaps this was the first time the entire theatre team were so keen to have a student scrub in.

Reg: "Tofu, have you ever scrubbed in before?"
Me: "Well I did in 3rd year.... *mumble mumble*"
Reg: "Okay, get one of the nurses to watch you scrub in and come stand next to the head"
Me: "OKAY!" *tears of joy*

*okay i didn't actually have any tears of joy.. but I was pretty happy with having such an enthusiastic reg.

The head was fixed in place, overlying hair was shaved off, the scalp cut into, and using power tool like instruments, a hole was bored into the skull.

For the very first time i saw the human brain in a living person, it quivers ever so little, almost like a pulsating movement. A long metal shaft was shunted through the neck, over the clavicle and into the abdomen, where one end of the catheter was inserted. Whilst the valved end of the catheter was shoved into the brain and into the ventricles, and you can instantly see the valved area fill up with CSF.

That was my first taste of neurosurgery. I had to come back!

I went back to theatres for my consultant's surgery list, and it was awesome! As soon as i walked in, the nurses remembered me, and already asked if I wanted to scrub in today, i nodded with a big smile.

The list was rather short, but I was lucky to get to see a good mixture of procedures, from spinal surgery and brain tumour biopsy to sub-dural haematoma extraction. Managing to scrub in for every procedure, as the day progressed I got to go from standing by the head, to given the suction, helping with the sutures and stapling up the scalp at the end.

The only down sides from this placement, is that it was only a week long... and that from now onwards, i will never be able to have any grass jelly drink or dessert, without it reminding me of a sub-dural haematoma!

Found this picture online, not sure if it makes me want to eat it anymore.

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