Surgery with Music Series Post #20: How difficult is it to find the pre-programmed headphones for surgery?
If you have just found out that you need surgery for any given condition, you’ll want to get the headphones as soon as possible. Having the ability to listen to this music for an hour or so a day leading up to the surgery will allow you to condition your body to relax when the music starts.
It’s also good to be able to let your doctor know that you want to use music during the surgery in case he has questions about doing this. Although most doctors are fine with the idea once they understand the considerable research behind them, some doctors will balk. A few people have reported that their doctor allowed them to wear the headphones until the surgery and immediately afterwards, but not during.
If you are going to a large, cutting-edge facility, it’s possible that they will already have the headphones ready to go for you, but in smaller communities and hospitals, you’ll probably have to bring your own! As I said above, though, just be sure to let the doctor you’ll be bringing in your own music and player.
The only surgery that the headphones might not work for would be brain surgery and even then they could possibly be worn. Anything new always has many skeptics at first, but these surgical serenity headphones are rapidly gaining credibility in the medical world. I think the fact that the Cleveland Clinic has brought be in to do a Grand Rounds presentation is proof enough that they are a great idea!
Even if your surgery is less than a week away, I can probably get them to you if you’re willing to pay overnight postage. Just go to www.surgicalheadphones.com and you can order either the headphones or a download of my proprietary music, chosen especially for it’s characteristics. You can put the music on your own iPod or MP3 player if you prefer, but the cordless headphones are the easiest and most convenient! Best wishes on your procedure!
A reader has asked the question about how long after returning home from surgery will the headphones and music continue to help. Great question! The wonderful thing about music is that it always relaxes you and healing happens best and fastest when the body is relaxed. Stress and anxiety cause every muscle in your body to tense up and it’s hard to heal when your body is full of tension.
That’s why putting the headphones on at least 30-45 before you are taken in to surgery is so important. Here too, the more relaxed your body is, the less anesthesia and pain medication will be required to put you to sleep and keep you asleep comfortably.
After you return home you will find that it’s easy to add new music to the headphones or change all of the music completely. You’ll be able to wear the headphones outdoors or indoors. You could even travel with them and wear them on planes, trains and cruise ships, just like you would an iPod, but cordlessly. These headphones are an investment that you’ll enjoy for years to come.
Thanks for all the questions people are sending me. Keep them coming!
Today many surgeons and anesthesiologists are aware of the benefits of music before, during and after the surgical procedure. But occasionally, a patient comes to me or calls me saying that their surgeon doesn’t like the idea? Why? Usually because the surgeon has not read all of the latest research on the the many benefits that music brings to the situation. Some surgeons don’t understand the concept of entrainment, whereby the vibration of the music causes your heart and breathing to slow down and synchronize with the music. Even after your ears cease to hear the music through the headphones, the vibrations of this music cause your inner rhythms of heartbeat and music to synchronize with that tempo and all with the mood of the music which is peaceful and serene. For that reason, it really doesn’t even matter if you like classical music or not because when you are deeply “asleep” under the anesthesia, you won’t even hear the music as music!
I’ve actually written a free report entitled “How to Talk with Your Doctor About Using Music with your Surgery.” Just click on this link to get it for free! Don’t miss out on this important step of the process!
This is such a simple concept, and yet, very few hospitals or sugery centers implement therapeutic music. There are many, many studies that document that music pre- and post-surgery can decrease the use of anxiety medications before and pain medication afterwards. Studies have been conducted on major hospitals and universities all over the world. As recently as April 1, 2011 I presented a Grand Rounds at Cleveland Clinic Florida that went over the top studies for music before, during and after surgery. To see highlights of this, click HERE.
How does it work? Before surgery, when you put on the headphones, the music enters your brain through the 8th cranial nerve. Within moments, you close your eyes and your heartrate and breathing begin to slow down and become steady. You begin to relax, naturally, and the need for I.V. anxiety medication greatly reduces. After surgery, the headphones are again used as you move into the recovery area and your body stays relaxed as you come out from under the anesthesia.
The recovery room is known for it’s busy-ness and (often) lack of peace and quiet. In today’s crowded hospitals, nurses are trying to take care of many patients at the same time and those without music are often moaning and crying out. Those with the headphones are not only staying relaxed, but the headphones help block out other patients cries and sounds of pain and discomfort.
Some hospitals have tried having CD players at bedside, but that doesn’t work nearly as well as the pre=programmed headphones. A recent patient wrote this to me:
- I kept expecting to be nervous as the date of surgery rolled around but couldn’t seem to summon up any anxiety
- My blood pressure has dropped to normal limits
- I “knew ” I wouldn’t be able to sleep prior to surgery but guess what I slept well
- I was calm and relaxed before surgery
- The dentist and staff tucked me in, made sure I had my music (I had my i POD set to repeat ) and away we went.
- Post -op I was still relaxed – had a sleep and had little pain- I had a bunch of work done – I did take an Advil at bedtime just for “insurance” but really didn’t need it.
- My mouth is healing beautifull
Thank you for the wonderful music.
If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to leave them as comments on this blog and I will get right back to you!
CHICAGO— General anesthesia or local? Hiphop
or Sinatra? These are among the decisions
facing Dr. Frank Gentile in his double-duty job
as anesthesiologist and self-styled DJ of the
He doesn’t use a microphone or speak in a
fake baritone. But the eclectic range of CDs he
loads onto the anesthesia cart headed for the
operating room would impress any bona fide
disc jockey. Gentile’s collection is between 50
and 100 CDs, and his iPod holds about 5,000
“I choose my music strategically. I know my
surgeons’ tastes,” says Gentile, the
anesthesiology chairman at Edward Hospital in
There’s Eminem and 50 Cent for one surgeon
who likes rap — the songs are “cleaned-up” to
avoid offending anyone. For another doctor it’
s Metallica. Others prefer oldies or opera.
Gentile picks different types of music for
different stages of surgery. Many surgeons
prefer up-tempo beats for the final stage and
one doctor Gentile works with “always closes
Many U.S. operating rooms have sound
systems, so playing music during surgery has
become commonplace. Some doctors say it
relieves the tension; studies have shown it can
also benefit patients, even reducing the need
for anesthesia somewhat during surgery.
In many hospitals, the task of selecting OR
music often falls to the anesthesiologist — and
it’s one many take seriously. Some say
amassing impressive music collections is even
an effective marketing tool — a way an
anesthesiologist can ensure being picked
when a surgical team is being chosen.
“Sometimes surgeons will say, ‘I won’t work
Dr. Frank Gentile adjusts a stereo system as he holds a bunch of CDs in an operating room
at Edward Hospital in Naperville, Ill
Anesthesiologists face double-duty while on the job
with that anesthesiologist because he’s a
fuddy-duddy and I don’t like the kind of music
he plays,”’ said Dr. Doug Reinhart, an
anesthesiologist in Ogden, Utah.
Reinhart surveyed 301 American Society of
Anesthesiology members and found that
providing operating music was among nonmedical
tasks many performed.
Anesthesiologists in private practice and those
under 50 were most likely to serve as the
Gentile says the DJ task falls sort of naturally
to anesthesiologists, given their role. While
their medical duties continue after a patient is
asleep — including monitoring vital signs and
administering intravenous fluids —
anesthesiologists are less tethered to the
operating table than surgeons and other OR
staff. They’re often more free to walk around
during surgery, or to change a CD.
Gentile thinks music makes surgeons work
more efficiently. “If they’re working faster and
they’re happy, the flow of the operating room
If things aren’t going well during an operation,
or if the music starts becoming a distraction,
Gentile says he turns it off.
Reinhart, 51, said nurses and surgeons
provide the music in the surgery center where
he works, but he was the OR DJ at his former
job at a private Dallas hospital.
“I had a little boom box on top of my
anesthesia cart and I had a selection of CDs —
a lot of country and classical and kind of
quieter soft rock,” Reinhart said.
Patients’ tastes must be considered when
surgery involves only a local anesthetic, he
said. “We’re not going to play rap when there’s
a 90-year-old lady in there — it would scare
them to death.”
Dr. Greg Irvine, an orthopedic surgeon in
Portland, Ore., says he’s worked with
anesthesiologists who load their iPods and
laptops with special music mixes catering to
specific surgeons’ tastes, then plug them into
the operating-room sound system.
Irvine says he’s usually so focused on
operating that he barely hears the music and
generally lets others decide what to play —
unless “they put on something I really can’t s
tand,” like when an anesthesiologist started
playing military music from Eastern Europe. “It
was a little intense,” Irvine said.
On the flip side, Irvine said several years ago
an anesthesiologist turned him on to
bluegrass singer Alison Krauss — he’d never
heard her “phenomenal” voice until it filled the
operating room one day.
“I went out and bought one of her early CDs,”
Gentile’s own taste in music leans more
toward heavy metal, though he chose
something much more mellow when he had
sinus surgery a couple of years ago.
“I went to sleep listening to Coldplay,” he said.
Gentile dreamily says that now, whenever he
hears that same CD, “I get taken to a pretty
© 2011 The Associated Press.
J Perianesth Nurs. 2010 Dec;25(6):387-91.
Implementation of music as an anesthetic adjunct during monitored anesthesia care.
Newman A, Boyd C, Meyers D, Bonanno L.
Operating room sounds and music can be influential on a patient’s experience, especially during monitored anesthesia care (MAC). In this article, the effect of music and noise on patients during MAC was assessed. The Bispectral Index (BIS) Monitor was used to evaluate the effect of music on the level of sedation or anesthesia in the articles reviewed. A review of current literature was completed regarding the use of music in the OR during MAC cases and its relationship to propofol sedation requirements. Ten journal articles were reviewed with publication dates ranging from 1997 to 2009. The use of music as an anesthetic adjunct during MAC cases can reduce the amount of sedation required, speed recovery time, and prevent the likelihood of converting to a general anesthetic.
Copyright © 2010 American Society of PeriAnesthesia Nurses. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
PMID: 21126669 [PubMed – in process]
You know, I’ve asked myself that many times and I’ve talked with surgeons and anesthesiologists about it. Very simply, the answer is no! Music during surgery has absolutely no drawbacks but stands to improve the outcome of the surgery. How does this happen?
When the patients has slow, steady, purely instrumental music coming through headphones, the body’s heart-rate and breathing synchronize with the pulse of the music and keep the patients bio-rhythms slow and steady. When this happens, the patients stays relaxed and stabilized naturally and does not require as much anesthesia during the procedure or as much pain medication afterwards.
When the patient chooses his own favorite slow, steady music and listens to that through wireless/cordless headphones, the procedure will be safer (as a result of less anesthesia) and the patient will recover faster and go home faster. I recently got a testimonial from a patient who raves about how well his heart surgery went. To see this video testimonial, go to www.surgicalserenity.com.