Music was first introduced into operating theatres in 1914 to relieve the anxiety of patients. Today, patients are placed under anaesthetic outside of the theatre and music is routinely played for the benefit of clinical staff.
Many researchers have studied whether or not background music should be used in Operating rooms. Some would argue that loud music could block communication between the medical team. Nevertheless, a team of researchers from University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) went on to study the positive influence that music could potentially have on the actual efficiency during the procedures. Two trials on 15 plastic surgery residents required them switching between working in a silent operating room versus listening to their music of choice whilst operating. Surgeons listening to music completed the stitches about 8% faster on average than those working without a soundtrack. Music also seemed to make a bigger difference for more experienced surgeons; senior residents closing the incisions while listening to their chosen music finished the work 10% faster than other senior residents.
Andrew Zhang from UTMB stated, “Our study confirmed that surgeons’ listening to their preferred music improves efficiency and quality wound closure, which may translate to health care cost savings and better patient outcomes.”
When it come to patients’ outcomes, faster surgeries means less time spent on the table under general anesthesia and this leads to better outcomes for patients. Music is a non-invasive, safe, and inexpensive intervention that can be delivered easily and successfully for patients as well.
Another study proved that patients having minor surgeries benefited from listening to classical music during the procedure. They had less anxiety and lower breathing rates during the surgery and recovered more quickly afterward.
A team at Queen Mary University of London, found out in a study published in the Lancet medical journal that even when patients having surgery were completely unconscious, music could ease their pain and anxiety. Based on their report, “Pre-recorded music through headphones, musical pillows, or background sound systems can be a non-invasive, safe, and inexpensive intervention compared with pharmaceuticals, and can be delivered easily and successfully in a medical setting,”
What do surgeons really think about music in the OR ?
“ Music stops me daydreaming. It reduces the stress for everyone and you perform better. Do my junior surgeons pretend to like the same music so I will let them operate? Probably – otherwise it is amazing that we all have the same taste.“ – Harith Akram. Neurosurgeon at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, London
“ Music makes the work go faster – probably about 10%-15% faster. It’s a good thing. “ – Simon Moyes. Consultant orthopaedic surgeon at the London Bridge Hospital Group, London
“ In planned operations, there are long stretches where you are doing something you have done many times, but it still requires meticulousness, and music is good for this.” – Gabriel Weston. Skin cancer surgeon at Frimley Park hospital, Frimley
Today new theatre suites are often equipped with docking stations and Music players and portable speakers are routinely used during operations. Future studies should focus on the best genre/type of music to be played in the O.R. instead of whether or not music should be used in the O.R . Until then, we’ve built our own music playlist compiled by top surgeons where you will also be able to suggest your own tracks.