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Great question!  Many people fear that even if they want to use their own music in the Operating Room, their doctor won’t allow it because of concerns with germs, cleaniliness, or some sort of interference with their equipment.  Let me address these concerns, one by one:

Could music through headphones or an iPod/MP3 play introduce germs into the surgical field?  I have been told repeatedly by surgical personnel, that everything in the OR does NOT have to be sterilized.  Only the instruments that go inside the patient music be sterilized.  The table, floor, lamps, etc. are disinfected but not sterilized.  Although the headphones that each person uses are brand-new and not touched by human hands once packaged, my recommendation that you order them several days in advance allows you to practice relaxing with them at home and get used to turning them off and on and adjusting the volume.  So that when you arrive at the hospital, they will likely be wiped down with disinfectant anyway, but can also easily fit under the cap that the patient wears over their own hair and head.

Even in 2005, there were a few surgeons who would balk at the idea of bringing an ipod or headphones in the to the OR, but today, the benefits of the right kind of music in surgery, are so well documented that it is not an issue.  Also, the fact that probably the majority of surgery now have music playing in the OR, makes it seem more natural for the patient to bring his music in.  Especially for regional anesthesia or local anesthesia, it makes sense to let the patient bring in the music that will be comforting for them.

Rhythmic entrainment is so powerful and so well-documented that there is no questions that slow, steady, soothing music will calm a person down by slowly and regulating their breathing.  You have a couple of choices.  You can choose your favorite slow, steady, instrumental music and load it onto your iPod, or you can purchase cordless, preprogrammed headphones to take into surgery and they will last you for 5-10 years, and can be re-loaded with whatever music you like.  Best wishes on your surgery and let me know if I can help you or answer any questions!

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