Teen sings during brain surgery, her brain affecting her musical abilities.
It was about four years ago when 19-year-old Kira Iaconetti suddenly observed strange changes when she was singing or listening to music. As it turns out, there was a marble-sized mass in her brain affecting her musical abilities.
Love For Music
Kira Iaconetti is a self-taught musician who was just 6 years old when she started performing in musicals. However, about four years ago, she noticed that she had suddenly become tone deaf, and she was having a difficult time singing the words of a song in tune with the music.
At first she thought that it was something that every serious performer experiences, but she decided to see a neurologist when the strange episodes became more noticeable and she was slurring and stuttering her words after each episode.
It was then that MRI scans at the Seattle Children’s Hospital revealed that Iaconetti had a marble-sized mass in the right temporal lobe. Specifically, the tumor was found to be pressing on her auditory cortex.
According to neurosurgeon Dr. Jason Hauptman, the tumor was discovered because of Iaconetti’s unusual type of epilepsy called musicogenic epilepsy, wherein the seizures would be triggered by music.
Doctors knew that removing the tumor could affect the teen’s singing ability, and they also knew how important it was to her as a performer. As such, the surgery team at Seattle Children’s Hospital took a personalized approach to planning her surgery in such a way that they would be able to remove the brain tumor while also preserving her musical abilities.
Using advanced technology and with the help of various experts including a music therapist, doctors performed an awake craniotomy to remove her tumor. After removing a small section of her skull, doctors woke Iaconetti up and had her sing while they were performing the surgery. Through this, doctors were able to know which parts of her brain were integral to her musical abilities and avoided them. Some members of the team even sang with her while she sang Weezer’s “Island in the Sun.”
Road To Recovery
Fortunately, doctors found that the tumor was a low-grade glioma, and that it is unlikely for her to need further treatment.
Iaconetti was able to sing and play the guitar just 48 hours after the surgery, and is already setting sights on her next audition.