Surgery Soundtracks Promote Faster Healing


In the age of the iPod, satellite radio, and Spotify, music has never been a bigger part of our daily lives. While a custom soundtrack is a necessity for many of us while driving, jogging, or working at the office, new research indicates that it could be even more useful in a different context: the operating room.

In the most extensive study of its kind, surgeons at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital have documented the benefits of playing music for patients during surgery. Of the 96 patients involved, half went under the knife while being serenaded by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Beethoven, and a selection of contemporary pop hits. Not only did these patients have a lower breathing rate and an overall greater level of relaxation than their music-less counterparts, they also went on to a speedier recovery.

“Undergoing surgery can be a stressful experience for patients and finding ways of making them more comfortable should be our goal as clinicians,” explains lead researcher Dr. Hazim Sadideen. “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.”

While all subjects were awake for their procedures, which included the cleansing of wounds and removal of epidermal lesions, researchers did not attempt to determine if one type of music was more effective than another.

What do you say, readers – would music help you relax during an operation? What is your number one surgical song? Most creative submission wins a special prize!

Image: boombox art car, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from hep’s photostream.