Music and Surgery, Pt. 3


Are you dissatisfied with your medical and hospital experiences? If you are, join the community of thousands who feel that going to a hospital just might make them worse!! With each passing day there are frightening stories or patients contracting staph infections, getting the procedure intended for someone else, having equipment left inside of them after surgeon has sewn them up and on and on. It’s enough to make you want to get lots more involved with your own health and learn more about how to stay healthy and create new eating and exercising habits!

Recently I’ve written quite a bit about the importance of you, the
patient, having your own music during surgery. I continue to get questions, thanks and requests for personal consultations before surgery. It really doesn’t matter if you’re having out-patient surgery for something like a colonoscopy, a laser treatment or even chemotherapy, or if you’re having inpatient major surgery for heart bypass, ruptured disk or hysterectomy.

The facts are clear: patients who are listening to their own favorite,
self-selected, slow and steady instrumental music, need less anxiety
medication before the procedure, less anesthesia during the procedure,
and less pain medication after the procedure. There are hundreds of studies from hospitals and clinics around the world documenting this fact but surprisingly, most hospital operating rooms do not provide music for patient. Many surgeons are now bringing their own favorite music into the OR, but the patient is thought to be “asleep” and unaffected. Not true! Many patients have reported to me that they heard conversations between various staff members, comments from the surgeon and even frightening words such as “doesn’t look good,” “worse than I thought” or even “oops!”

What can you do? If you have some advance notice that you need surgery, get a good Walkman or Discman, choose your favorite music that has a slow, steady tempo and no words or lyrics (a favorite is always the Pachelbel Canon in D) and let your surgeon know that you want to use music during your surgery. Remember, it’s not about entertainment, it’s about stabilizing body rhythms, keeping the muscles relaxed, and blocking out OR conversations and bleeping machines. The surgeon and anesthesiologist needs to hear these things, but the patient definitely does not!

If you want a consultation with me before your procedure, contact me through my website at or call me at 502-419-1698. Hope to hear from you soon!

Your partner in good health,

Dr. Alice Cash
Clinical Musicologist
Licensed Clinical Social Worker


Surgery with Music, Pt. 2


I’ve been researching the use of music with surgery for about 15 years now. Not surprisingly, my mother is one of my biggest fans and now knows to always use music with surgery. Recently, she had her fourth surgery with music. As always, we talked to the anesthesiologist and the surgeon in advance to make sure they would allow this and without hesitation they said yes.

In case you need a refresher course, the reason we use
surgery is because the music synchronizes the heart-beat
and breathing and people use up to 50% LESS anesthesia!
This is HUGE because anesthesia is one of the things
you must recover from after surgery. This has been documented
in literally 100’s of studies from around the world with all kinds
of surgeries. When patients listen to music through headphones,
the music enters the brain through the 8th cranial nerve and not
only relaxes the patient but also blocks out the conversations
that the surgeon is having with assistants that could include
comments that the patient really doesn’t want to hear! People
have reported to me hearing nurses talking about what they
wanted for lunch, their boyfriends, etc. While I think this is
probably rare, it’s better not to hear anything but familiar, soothing
instrumental music.

Yesterday there was a front-page article in the NY Times about
music in the OR. While this article focused more on music for
the surgeon and staff, it is still very interesting and can be found at


For more information on music with surgery, visit my website at You can order my two-tape
set there or sign up online for an individual consultation before
your surgery or just to talk about how music can improve, invigorate
and energize YOUR life! Until next time, keep the music playing!

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