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post #1 of 2 (permalink) Old 10-16-2008, 03:47 PM Thread Starter
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Banjo Legend Plays on Operating Table

Banjo Legend Plays on Operating Table During Brain Surgery

Original URL:,2933,438785,00.html


Eddie Adcock has plucked his banjo on many stages -- but nothing probably came close to playing the instrument on an operating table during brain surgery.

The bluegrass legend, 70, underwent a three-part surgery at Vanderbilt Medical Center in Louisville, Ky. between Aug. 15 and 25 to correct a condition called "essential tremor" that has hampered his ability to perform everyday tasks as well as play his beloved banjo.

During stage two of the operation, Adcock was kept awake to perform while surgeons poked and prodded different areas of his brain.

VIDEO: Click here to watch the surgery.

"This is usually a routine procedure where electrodes are placed in thalamus, which is a kind of switchboard in the brain," Dr. Peter Hedera, a neurologist specializing in movement disorders at Vanderbilt Medical Center, told "Usually people are asked to hold a cup or write -- but in this case we had Eddie play the banjo because that was his main problem."

During the deep-brain stimulation surgery, neurosurgeon, Dr. Joseph Neimet, and Hedera were able to place the electrodes in precisely the right place under the guidance of Adcock.

"He played the banjo delivering different currents to the thalamus," Hedera said. "The whole time he was telling us whether he was playing better or worse."

At one point, Adcock told surgeons he was plucking away like it was 10 to 15 years ago.

"He was very pleased and surprised," Hedera said. "You could see the smile on his face. He was thrilled."

His tremor is now controlled by a pacemaker implanted in his chest, which helps block the shaking. The device is expected to last 12 years before Adcock will need a replacement.

“It was risky but playing means that much to me,” Adcock said. “I never went through hell like this. But I couldn’t bear giving up the banjo.”

When Hedera was asked if the surgery was a success, he referred to a recent appearance by the music legend.

"He played to a big audience a few days ago at a bluegrass festival and we got feedback that people were blown away. They said he was playing like the "old Eddie."

Adcock and his wife Martha, who often perform together, have been referred to as the "Sonny and Cher of Bluegrass."

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post #2 of 2 (permalink) Old 10-16-2008, 03:49 PM
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Wow, that's a pretty cool story.

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