Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City (SSMC), one of the UAE’s largest hospitals for serious and complex care and a joint-venture partnership between Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA) and Mayo Clinic, successfully conducted its first awake craniotomy using a unique advanced neuro-monitoring and brain mapping technique to preserve the patient’s brain functions.

The patient was initially diagnosed with epilepsy. However, as his condition was deteriorating and he was not responding to medical treatment, he was offered a second medical opinion at SSMC. Following thorough testing, including CT and MRI scans, the patient was diagnosed with a brain tumor, which was growing and triggering seizures.  

Dr. Waseem Aziz, Consultant Neurosurgeon at SSMC, who spearheaded the surgical surgery, explained: “By conducting timely examinations, we were able to detect the abnormality. The tumor was in a critical area of the brain, the motor cortex, which controls physical movement for the opposite half of the body. That meant we had to conduct the surgery while the patient was awake, in order to constantly monitor his neurological functions.”

The brain plays a vital role in the central nervous system; it controls the ability to speak, move, think or remember. Like with all brain surgeries, the removal or manipulation of brain parts naturally poses some risks and can impair vision, speech, and motor skills[1]. Awake brain surgery, combined with advanced neuro-monitoring and brain mapping, allows surgeons, like Dr. Waseem, to identify precisely which areas of the brain control those functions and avoid them.

Dr. Maged Raafat, Consultant Anesthetist, said: “Anesthesia plays a critical role in complex cases such as this one, as the priority is to keep the patient awake and alert, but pain-free, in order to respond to questions and move during the surgery to ensure the surgical resection is safe.”

Dr. Waseem continued: “The success of this challenging craniotomy was the result of the extraordinary team effort undertaken by our anesthetist, neurophysiologist for neuro-monitoring, nursing staff who helped during the surgery and post-surgery treatment plan, and the pathologist who gave us the final diagnosis to which we could determine the nature of the tumor. But most importantly the trust placed in us by our patient, his cooperation throughout the process, and his astounding bravery.”

The patient stayed under medical supervision for a week following the four-hour surgery. Following a post-operative investigation, doctors at SSMC have declared he will not require chemotherapy, only a check-up every six months.

The patient said: “I didn’t think being awake during a brain surgery was possible before talking to Dr. Waseem, but I’m grateful to God and the doctors at SSMC for treating me and allowing me to go back to a normal life.”

Dr. Matthew Gettman, Chief Medical Officer at SSMC, said: “At SSMC, we are committed to bringing life-changing advancements, state-of-the-art technology, and innovative surgeries to treat serious and complex cases such as this one and hopefully transform their life for the better. As always, we strive to ensure that everyone in our community, and beyond, receives the highest levels of care and compassion when they need it the most.”


About Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City (SSMC)

Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City (SSMC) is a joint venture between Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA), the UAE’s largest healthcare network, and Mayo Clinic, a non-profit global leader in medical care, education, and research headquartered in the United States of America. Established in 2019, SSMC is the largest tertiary hospital in the UAE and serves to elevate the provision of healthcare services in the nation under the mandate of the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030.

Supported by the latest diagnostic and treatment modalities available, SSMC offers care in 24 specialties. A team of locally and internationally trained physicians and allied health staff work seamlessly together, which promotes comprehensive interdisciplinary learning, allowing SSMC to become a leading hub for integrated patient-centric medical services in the region.

As the region’s leading tertiary facility, SSMC has 742 patient beds, 18 operating theatres, and includes a hybrid operating room, 26 neonatal intensive care units, and the UAE’s largest pathology lab.

For more information on Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City or to book an appointment, visit https://ssmcabudhabi.ae/.

About Mayo Clinic  

Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit organization committed to innovation in clinical practice, education, and research, and providing compassion, expertise and answers to everyone who needs healing. Visit the Mayo Clinic News Network for additional Mayo Clinic news.

[1] https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/awake-brain-surgery/about/pac-20384913