Headphones for the patient?


Headphones for the patient undergoing surgery is a must!  Why has it taken so long for the medical/surgical community to realize this?  Surgeons have been using music for themselves, assuming that if the patient enjoys it, that would be nice, but not medically significant.  Has there been a misunderstanding?  No, I think it’s a matter of educating the patients, the doctors, and the hospital administrators.  Surgeons have been choosing their preferred music in the OR for many decades now.  Patients and administrators have assumed that the music would also be effective for them, especially since they would be asleep for most of that time.

But is that really the case?  NO.  When music is being played ambiently in the OR, through speakers on a nearby table or counter, speakers in the wall or ceiling, the patients may vaguely hear that music, but they also hear the conversations, the sounds of surgery (which might include drilling, sawing, and hammering!) and the beeping of various monitors in the OR!  This is not soothing for the patient.

After over a decade of research, and patient/staff accounts, we know for sure, that when the patient puts on cordless, lightweight headphones that are pre-programmed with soothing, slow and rhythmic music, they do better.  Why?  Because the music that has been chosen is the ideal music to engage rhythmic entrainment and place the patient in a “sonic cocoon.”  This keeps that patients heartrate and breathing synchronized to the music, and outside conversation and noises do not penetrate the patient’s consciousness.

We are excited about our new headphone model that is priced so that the hospital can GIVE each surgical patient a headphone to take home with them.  Our initial efforts are focusing on hospitals that have multiple facilities around the country, but if you would like us to talk with administrators at your hospital, just let us know, and we’d be happy to set up an initial call!!


Music and Surgery: Research on Benefits Continues to Emerge


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


Another New Research Study on Benefits of Music during Surgery


J Altern Complement Med. 2012 Sep 18.

Music’s Use for Anesthesia and Analgesia.


2nd Department of Anesthesiology, School of Medicine University of Athens,  “ATTIKON” University Hospital , Chaidari, Athens,  Greece .


“Abstract   This review article provides an overview of published data regarding the involvement of music in anesthesia practice. Music is an important topic for research in different fields of anesthesiology. The use of music preoperatively is aimed at reducing anxiety, stress, and fear. However, the effect of music on perception of pain intraoperatively is controversial, according to studies of both adults and children undergoing various surgical procedures under general and/or regional anesthesia. In postoperative pain management, postanesthesia care, and neonatal intensive care, music can be a complementary method for reducing pain, anxiety, and stress. Music is a mild anxiolytic, but it is relatively ineffective when a pain stimulus is severe. However, music is inexpensive, easily administered, and free of adverse effects, and as such, can serve as complementary method for treating perioperative stress and for acute and chronic pain management, even though music’s effectiveness depends on each individual patient’s disposition and severity of pain stimulus.”

There are probably thousands of anecdotal reports about the benefits of music before, during and after surgery, but in the world of medicine, only the statistically documented studies count.  I’ve been collecting these studies for about 15 years now and they are getting better and better!

As we move forward with our process of getting the Surgical Serenity Solution into hospitals primarily, and into the hands of patients, secondarily, these studies are very important.  Please help me get the world out to your friends and family.  Also, please feel free to send me any questions or comment you might have.  Thank you!


Classical music ‘improves surgery’


Patients who played classical music ---and FrankSinatra---during minor surgery were more relaxed.Classical music could become a routine part of surgery, after a study found it   helped to relax patients under local anaesthetic.

Surgeons believe playing a little knife music might benefit patients so much   that they recover sooner from their operations.

Mozart was not actually one of the composers that those in the study got to   hear. However, they were offered equally soothing pieces by Beethoven,   Vivaldi and Bach.

Frank Sinatra was also on hand for those who preferred some easy listening   during the operations, which included washing out major wounds.

Hazim Sadideen, the plastic surgeon who led the project at the John Radcliffe  Hospital in Oxford, said: “Undergoing surgery can be a stressful   experience for patients and finding ways of making them more comfortable   should be our goal as clinicians.

“There are also good medical reasons – calmer patients may cope better   with pain and recover quicker.

“This small scale work is the first time an attempt has been made to   measure the impact music has in this specific group of patients and hints at the need for bigger multi-centre research to establish whether this should become part of standard practice.”

In the study, published in the journal Annals of the Royal College of  Surgeons, 96 patients undergoing minor surgery were randomly assigned   either music or silence. All were awake during their procedures, which   included routine removal of skin lesions and cleansing of upper limb wounds after accidents.

The half played music reported lower anxiety levels and lower breathing rates than the others.

The medics did not evaluate whether Beethoven was better for patients than Bach.


Surgery with Music Series Post #26: What the news media says


Our series of 30 posts on Music with Surgery is rapidly drawing to an end. I thought that perhaps my readers would like to know what some of the major news media have to say about the whole idea. They tend to be critical of such new ideas, but take a look at today’s source: www.livescience.com

“A new study by the Yale School of Medicine confirms previous work showing that surgery patients listening to music require much less sedation.

Previous studies left open the question of whether it was music that did the trick, or just the act of blocking out the sound of dropped surgical instruments and other operating room noise.

In the new study, researchers tested 90 surgery patients at two facilities. Some wore headphones and listened to the music of their choice. Others heard white noise, that hiss and hum common to office buildings that’s designed to drown out harsh noises. Others had no headphones.

Blocking sounds with white noise did not decrease sedative requirements, the study found, music did.”

Doctors and patients should both note that music can be used to supplement sedation in the operating room,” said study team member Zeev Kain, a Yale professor in the Department of Anesthesiology.

The results are detailed in the May issue of the journal Anesthesia & Analgesia.


Music in the OR in Hawaii


I’ve written many times about my mentor, Dr. Arthur Harvey. He has been a believer of the power of music during surgery for a long, long time. Enjoy this article excerpt from the http://starbulletin.com/2005/05/20/news/story2.html

Dr. Arthur Harvey played classical music on an electric piano at St. Francis Medical Center’s new Laser Tear Duct Center yesterday as Dr. Jorge Camara, in colorful hat, operated on patient Benjamin Semana’s blocked tear duct and Dr. Samuel Wong observed at right. Wong, the Honolulu Symphony’s outgoing music director, is also an ophthalmologist.

Recent Research on Music and Surgery


There is so much data about the benefits of music before, during and after surgery. You can search by type of surgery or you can search by type of adjunctive intervention like music, relaxation tapes, aromatherapy or any of dozens of things! If you want to see some of the most recent, go to http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez. Just do a search for what interests you most. Please let me know how I can help you!