Music in the Operating Room Can Ease Pain & Anxiety, Say Researchers

surgeons play music in operating room

Music is said to heal many wounds. Till now, that was meant figuratively or so we thought until recently. Doctors are now claiming that music helps to ease the pain and anxiety of patients undergoing surgery, even though they do not realize it.

A team at Queen Mary University of London published a report on the subject where they have clearly stated that music which is prerecorded exposed to a patient through headphones, background sound systems or musical pillows can work like pharmaceuticals do except music is cheap and non-invasive.

The study has given sufficient proof to show that music helps patients during and even after surgery leading experts to believe that it should be made available to all patients. It has also been suggested that patients should get a chance to choose their own type of music. Although we may believe the role of music in healing is a new discovery, it in fact has been used since a long time since Florence of nightingale.

Most Surgeons Play Music in the Operating Room

Dr. Doug Katz, a pediatric general surgeon at Nemours/A.I DuPont Hospital for Children almost always plays music during his surgeries, which can last for several hours. It can be any genre of music – country, classical or whatever the kids listen to these days; Dr. Doug Katz just needs a tune playing in the background so that he can focus and get to work.

There are many surgeons who believe that music in the operating room plays a larger role than most people might realize.

Music can help reduce anxiety, build camaraderie and even make the surgeons more efficient. Many said music relaxes and calms them before they perform the surgery. It also helps break any tensions during the quieter moments of the procedure. For many, listening to music creates a comfortable ambiance and atmosphere.

Spotify, the popular music streaming service, released a study last summer that surveyed 700 surgeons about the type of music they play in their ORs (Operating rooms). The company found that 90 percent of surgeons and surgical residents listen to music, with about 89 percent preferring playlists over albums. The most popular genre was rock, followed by pop, classical music, jazz and R&B.


Music Makes Surgeons More Efficient?

Listening to music can improve surgeons’ technique, according to a 2015 study published in The Aesthetic Surgery Journal. Researchers asked plastic surgeons to close wounds on pigs’ feet, which is similar to human skin, on two consecutive days. Half of the surgeons listened to music on the first day, while the other half listened to music on the second day. Researchers found that the average completion time was 7 to 10 percent faster when the doctors listened to music. The quality also improved when music was involved.

Can Music Distract?

Music often breaks up the mundane elements of surgery, says Dr. Shah. For him, music plays an integral part in their surgeries, which can last between four to six hours.

Shah said it’s important to make sure the surgical team feels empowered to voice an opinion. Most medical errors made in surgeries are avoidable but often occur because someone didn’t feel comfortable speaking up, he said. In a small way, the music can help with that.

“Music allows our team culture to flourish. It’s more a quality of life thing and something to bring our team together.”

Since Shah often works with a core group of nurses, they can tell when he’s reached a difficult step of the surgery and will turn the music down or off. The type of music (or lack thereof) serves as a barometer for how well things are going in the room.

Final Words

So, its not a completely new eureka discovery. Its just that many studies have been done on this theory ever since and now the proof of the effects of music is more glaring and conclusive.

With all its benefits, the only thing that may be a hindrance in its use is it may cause a disturbance to the surgeon during surgery. It may come in the way of communication during the surgical procedure so care should be taken to see that the music is not be imposing.

Music till now was called as the succor for the soul but now it seems like it even heals the body. Seems like a good enough alternative to those expensive drugs and never ending medical bills, don’t you think?

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