Hospital to live tweet brain surgery, put pics on Pinterest

Doctors from Memorial Hermann in Texas shared an open-heart surgery on social media in February 2012.

Story highlights

  • Coverage from the hospital's in-house team will begin Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. EST
  • Operation is called a brain tumor resection, which will prevent seizures
  • Specialist will be present to help answer questions from the digital audience
Several weeks after making history with the world's first live-tweeted open heart surgery, Houston's Memorial Hermann hospital is dusting off its social media chops again.
The plan this time? To live tweet a brain operation performed by one of the world's foremost neurosurgeons.
Live social media coverage from the hospital's in-house team will begin Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. EST. The hospital's Twitter page, @houstonhospital, will relay the operation's preparation, play-by-play and wrap up over the next four hours while using the hashtag #MHbrain. The first actual incision is scheduled for 10 a.m. EST.
The operation is called a brain tumor resection. It's designed to remove a tumor to prevent seizures. It will be performed by Dr. Dong Kim, a neurosurgeon who helped lead the team that treated former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords after she was shot in the head in 2011.
A two-inch by two-inch window will be cut in the skull of the patient, who is a young woman, Dr. Kim told Mashable in an interview. The window will leave her brain exposed for between one and one-and-a-half hours. That will give Dr. Kim access to find and remove the tumor, which he says is probably located between two and three centimeters beneath the brain's surface.
"What will come out of this is a detailed, real-time sequence of what happens in a brain surgery through all the stages from preparation, to shaving the hair, to making the incision, to draping," Dr. Kim says. "People are very anxious and want to know what goes on in a brain surgery like this."
While Dr. Kim works in the operating room, a team outside the room will work the social platforms. A brain tumor specialist will be present to help answer questions from the digital audience via Twitter. But the operation will expand to other social networks too.
Video clips from inside the operating room will be posted to YouTube, and photos shared on Pinterest. Storify compilations will recap each hour of the broadcast.
Natalie Camarata, Memorial Hermann's digital marketing manager, told Mashable the plan to live tweet the operation was hatched following the open-heart surgery, which was viewed an estimated 125 million times through Twitter, Storify and media coverage.
"We had a lot of success with the open-heart surgery and saw there was a lot of interest in seeing what goes into something that's an everyday thing for some people," Camarata says.
Memorial Hermann's open-heart surgery live tweet was a world first, although other hospitals have used to Twitter to cover different operations before, including a few brain surgeries. But Camarata and Dr. Kim say Memorial Hermann's social broadcast will break new ground in brain surgery live tweets by sharing the feed from Dr. Kim's fiber optic microscope to give viewers a new level of access and understanding.
"One neat thing about this is we should be able to get actual images of the brain surface itself," Dr. Kim says. "Hopefully you'll see video of the brain actually pulsating with heartbeats."
Do you think this is a good use of social media? Will you follow along Wednesday morning? Let us know in the comments.