Music and Surgery: Research on Benefits Continues to Emerge

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When you hear someone say that music before, during and after surgery is beneficial, you assume that its a certain type of music that has been specifically chosen for surgery, right?  After talking to people and working with patients and physicians and nurses about this for 25 years, I’ve heard it all!

It started out primarily with the surgeon deciding that he would be happier if HE had music playing in the OR, so he chose music that he felt would help him do a better job operating.  I’ve heard of surgeon’s choosing classical, rock and roll, smooth jazz, chant, and lots more.  This music usually is played through iPod speakers on a counter or shelf, or even through a boombox on the floor.

The thought was that the patient was either under general anesthesia and wouldn’t really hear it or they would be under regional anesthesia and would probably also enjoy it!  Pretty “iffy” I’d say, since taste in music varies wildly.  Then I came along in the late 90’s saying that even when patient was under general anesthesia, they could benefit from having their own slow, steady music, because of a process known as rhythmic entrainment.

The way this works is that our bodies respond to a nearby strong, steady beat by synchronizing with it, or entraining with it!  This is a well-documented phenomenon, first noticed in the 1700’s by a Dutch physicist named Daniel Huygens.  One of the things the anesthesiologist and staff do during surgery is to keep the heartbeat, breathing, blood pressure and body temperature at a resting, normal level.  This can be greatly helped along by tapping into rhythmic entrainment, utilizing music with a slow, steady beat and a soothing mood.

This is the music that we have already programmed onto your Surgical Serenity headphones to achieve the Surgical Serenity Solution!  A research study that came out just a couple of years ago reported that listening to music “during all three stages proved beneficial. Overall, patients who listened to music were less anxious, required less sedative medication, recovered more quickly and reported better satisfaction with their medical experience. But while some studies show that listening to classical music could yield the most positive results, the latest findings underscore the importance of taking into account patients’ musical tastes.” –

To that, I would add that when the patient is going under general anesthesia, probably classical music is best overall.  Our study here at the VA Hospital utilized exclusively classical music, and although most of the men were not classical music afficianados, once they had been explained why this specific music was chosen, they were happy to give it a chance…and experienced all the benefits listed above!!

The comment below was from a blog that was citing this study above, done at the University of Kentucky by music therapists.  However, it is not necessary to have a music therapist present to use our pre-programmed surgical headphones!  That’s one of the money-saving benefits to hospital and patient.

I will write lots more about this in future blog posts but do let me know your thoughts and your questions!  Thank you!

See more at: http://scopeblog.stanford.edu/2012/11/20/how-music-therapy-may-benefit-surgery-patients/#comments

June Pegram Says:

I had a full hysterectomy in 2005 at Stanford and my physician provided me with a cd to listen to in preparation for the surgery. The premise was to listen to the cd an follow the exercises provided along with the music. Having the music, prepared me in ways that I never would have dreamed- it actually changed my life, even to this day. There was no pre-op nervousness and before I knew it, I was in my recovery room still listening to the music. What a peaceful and relaxing way to enter something normally so stressful. My recovery was just as wonderful and I listened to the cd every night during recovery. Years later I find myself humming a few bars of the relaxation song to calm me down when I am tense. The cd has since been lost to me during several moves, but I truly wish I still had it. Music is very beneficial to the psyche and physical attributes towards preparation and healing and I will use it from now on…

– See more at: http://scopeblog.stanford.edu/2012/11/20/how-music-therapy-may-benefit-surgery-patients/#comments

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