Hannibal - I'd like to give you a piece of my mind. **SPOILER**

In the movie Hannibal, Ray Liotta’s character has a little problem. Well… his brain is exposed. I was just wondering if there was an M.D. out there somewhere who could answer this question for me: Is it possible to have the top portion of your skull removed and still be able to speak clearly for such a long period of time, if even at all?

I’m no doc, but I’m almost certain that it would be possible. The brain is comprised of 2 hemispheres and four lobes. Each of these has different functions and sub-cortex’s. If [Hannibal] was careful enough then he could remove, say, part of the frontal lobe - controlling memory, and the other functions wouldn’t be effected. Just look at lobotomy patients. Although they may be seriously screwed in the head, they can still walk about etc. The scull just protects the grey matter.

I’ve not seen Hannibal, so I am surmising that when you say “exposed”, you mean that the brain is devoid of any cover above the meninges.

I think the problems of longer term cerebral exposure would be rather obvious. An increased threat of infection exists because the blood/brain barrier can be bypassed by antigens. The act of removing skull segments would damage the meninges and blood vessels directly beneath the segments. This increases the risk of a cerebral bleed and embolus, and may also disrupt the ciculation of cerebrospinal fluid, which is essential in transporting some of the products of cellular metabolisation.

Incidentally, this movie is a current source of controversy in Australia. Our national censorship board has rated the movie as MA (mature, adult), which tacitly allows children unrestricted acces to view this film. Rather disturbing when you think about it.

they showed that in the movie? I read the book, and when I saw they were doing the movie, they said they’d ‘changed the ending’. and, silly me, I guess I’d hoped that ‘changed the ending’ would have oh, say, eliminated that scene? (BTW, Dvous, the ‘infection’ isn’t a concern in this case, the plan is for the ‘patient’ to ultimately die).

There have been plenty of brain operations on patients who are left conscious so that they can tell the doctor what’s happening to them as the doc noodles around in the brain. I think there are treatments for Parkinson’s that use this technique.

The Simpsons is just going to have to have an “Itchy & Scratchy” segment based on this scene.

After reading reviews of the movie in the Sunday paper, in which it was stated clearly that Hannibal cuts off the top of Ray Liotta’s head and then feeds him his own brains, naturally Bonzo is all agog to know whether you could actually do that. How long would it take Ray Liotta to die? How much of his own brain could he really eat? Could he have been rescued at any point in the proceedings, and survive, albeit with diminished brain capacity? How much brain capacity would be lacking?

In other words, would it really work?

Please, someone, be kind enough to discuss this seriously and in depth with a 13-year-old boy who Needs To Know desperately, not least because if he has the Straight Dope by tomorrow morning, he will once again be the star of the Middle School lunchroom (he really wowed 'em last month with the SD on the guy who cut off his own head with a chainsaw.)

Hoping to have an answer by tomorrow morning; there’s no school today in Illinois (Lincoln’s birthday).

Thanx. [sigh] :rolleyes:

You can lose virtually the entire frontal lobes and still live, although you would literally a drooling idiot at that point.

Thanx, Lumpy–I think. :smiley:

Anybody else?