I would say that this is a moderately controversial subject. Here’s why: if the patient and surgeon are both going to benefit from music being played in the operating room, then the music will have to be delivered ambiently to the doctor and through headphones to the patient. Why? Because the surgeon needs to hear more lively and energizing music, while the patient needs to hear calming and soothing music that will keep them relaxed and keep their blood pressure, heartrate and breathing slow and steady.
Luckily, this is quite possible! Less than a year ago I was invited to do a Grand Rounds presentationat the Cleveland Clinic Florida on the use of music as an adjunct to anesthesia. Most of the studies we looked at talked about music in the OR being played through speakers on the wall or an iPod being played through speakers. Although this usually benefits the OR staff, it does nothing for the well-being of the patient and completely disregards the concept of rhythmic entrainment.
The more recent studies look at the benefits of patients listening to their own favorite music through headphones. Now this has been taken a step further: wireless, cordless headphones are now available, pre-programmed with the ideal, slow, steady, soothing music that has been proven to slow down and keep steady the heartbeat and breathing. Rhythmic entrainment is a phenomenon that has been acknowledged for over three hundred years! It is this phenomenon that causes us to clap our hands, snap our fingers, or get up and dance spontaneously when favorite music comes on! The reverse is also true, therefore, when a patient arrives at the hospital to have surgery, popping on some cordless headphones, pre-programmed with calm, slow, steady and soothing music, is an ideal way to begin the sedation process. Oftentimes, less medication will be required as a direct result of this musical intervention.
If surgery is in your future, please consider your alternatives. Feel free to contact me directly if I can help you!