Going Under the Knife: are you afraid of anesthesia?


CystoscopySSSPeople tell me on a regular basis that they have a tremendous fear of going under anesthesia, especially general anesthesia.  Today, general anesthesia is a very safe process, if you have no complications, are in generally good health, and have no history of problems with anesthesia.

There are many exceptions to the above-mentioned situations though.  What if you have cancer and have been taking chemotherapy and have a suppressed immune system?  What if you are elderly and frail with a heart condition or other pre-existing conditions?  What if you have lots of allergies and a family history of problems with anesthesia.  Of course, there is not an easy answer here.  Each case must be judged on its own merits and you must talk very carefully with your doctors and your family.  However, in some cases, you just need to have surgery and you really need to have general anesthesia.

In this case I would strongly recommend that you consider using music before, during and after the procedure.  Music is a very well-documented and effective adjunct to anesthesia.  Slow, steady, soothing music entrains or synchronizes with your heartbeat and breathing to keep you calm and relaxed before they take you back, during the surgery, and throughout your time in the recovery room.

In addition, many surgeons today play their own favorite music in the OR and often it is upbeat, fast and even syncopated music.  This is thought not to affect the patient, and yet patients come to me after their surgery and tell me they heard conversations and loud music that they did not like!  For this reason, I recommend that the patient listen to their own favorite music through lightweight, cordless headphones that have the most appropriate music already programmed onto them.

If you have the time and know far enough in advance, you can create your own playlist and bring your own iPod or other MP3 player in.  OR, you can get some from www.surgicalheadphones.com.  They are being used around the world already and research studies are in progress to prove their effectiveness in reducing the amounts of medication you will need.  Best wishes as you go through this process and let me know how it goes!

Listening to soothing music before, during and after surgery can reduce the amount of anesthesia and pain medication you require


Fear of Anesthesia: How Can the Right Music Help?

Waiting for a Ceasarean-section childbirth

  As a therapist and a clinical musicologist, I talk to people nearly every day that have just been told that they need to have surgery and are almost more fearful of the anesthesia than they are of having surgery!  Why?  Because general anesthesia is very powerful medication and occasionally people do not survive the anesthesia.  The vast majority of people do fine, but if the patient is elderly or in a fragile health state already, it is a delicate balance.

How can music help?  Music therapy and Operating Room nursing journals have shown repeatedly shown that listening to your favorite calming, comforting, soothing music can make a very positive difference in your overall surgical experience.  There are also dozens, if not hundreds, of clinical studies showing that music in the recovery area can help the patient stay calm and comfortable as they regain consciousness and begin to feel the pain of the surgery.
Now, studies are being conducted to confirm that music DURING surgery can also make a positive difference and possibly decrease the amount of anesthesia needed to achieve the same degree of sedation, but without as much risk.  This is achieved by tapping into the power of rhythmic entrainment, by which the slow, steady tempo of the music brings the heartrate and the breathing into synchronization with the music and thereby keeps the body relaxed.
To learn more about the incredible power and benefits of music during anesthesia and surgery, please check out:  www.SurgicalHeadphones.com.

Propofol and Music during surgery


The trial of Conrad Murray is over and he was found guilty.  Things have to get pretty bad for someone to need propofol to sleep every night!  But Dr. Murray was willing to do this for Michael for enough money!

  It seems that Propofol has been used in surgery for about 35 years now and has been used safely.  Of course, Propofol (diprivan) was never intended to put people to sleep; people who suffer from insomnia and are at home.  Propofol is en extremely effect agent for inducing anesthesia and temporary amnesia.  Because of its milky appearance and its usefulness in the operating room, it is sometimes called “Milk of Amnesia.”  Tragically, Dr. Murray was accused of involuntary manslaughter because he illegally gave Michael Jackson Propofol in his home, because Jackson had severe insomnia.  Apparently, Murray had been doing this for sometime but did not know enough about the whole process to prevent this from happening.

Can music through headphones be used to affect the amount of Propofol required by the patient?  Take a look at this  study, done back on 2005, which I now present to you:

Anaesthesia. 2005 Oct;60(10):990-4.

Effects of music on target-controlled infusion of propofol requirements during combined spinal-epidural anaesthesia.


Department of Anaesthesiology, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China. zlxu@mails.tjmu.edu.cn


The sedative effects of music were evaluated using the bispectral index (BIS) during target-controlled infusion (TCI) propofol. A total of 110 women undergoing hysterectomy were randomly allocated to receive either music or no music. Propofol was administered using target-controlled infusion and the concentration adjusted gradually to achieve an observer’s assessment of alertness/sedation (OAA/S) score of 3 intra-operatively. The haemodynamic and bispectral index values during the sedation phase were recorded. Interleukin-6 was evaluated before, immediately after and 1 h following intervention. The music group had a significant reduction in mean (SD) induction time of sedation: 12 (12) min vs. 18 (12) min, p < 0.01; propofol target concentration: 1.6 (0.3) microg.ml(-1) vs. 2.4 (0.4) microg.ml(-1), p < 0.0001; intra-operative amount of propofol: 171 (98) mg vs. 251 (92) mg, p < 0.0001; and significantly higher levels of satisfaction with their peri-operative care: 9.6 (0.6) compared to the control group: 8.1 (1.0), p < 0.0001. No other differences were found. The results show the influence of music on the induction time of sedation, concentration and level of propofol during surgery, and suggest sedative benefits of music.


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