The next time you’re in surgery, you might want to listen to some of your favorite music. Why? A new study suggests listening to music can reduce the time it takes to perform a surgical closure.
Researchers conducted a study in which they simulated a wound model by having 15 residents perform layered closures on pigs’ feet, with and without music of their preference. Twelve residents (five lower level and seven upper level residents) completed both sessions, performing 48 repairs. Blinded faculty completed 144 repair ratings.
Listening to music while operating is a common practice especially among plastic surgeons. A survey of UK surgeons suggested 90% of surgeons listen to music during operations, and plastic surgeons play the most music, according to an article by Henley J, “Music for surgery,” published in The Guardian, 2011.
In the pigs’ feet study, researchers found an 8% overall reduction of operative time among all residents. Upper-level residents participating in the study and listening to their preferred music choices cut operative time for surgical closures by 10%. It took residents an average 11.5 minutes to complete repairs without music, compared to 10.6 minutes with music.
Not only did the music seem to improve efficiency, but repair quality also improved slightly among music listeners.
However, the effect of music on providers and patients is somewhat controversial.
The Music Controversy
Studies have found it can be a stress reliever, as in this study, which was published in 1994 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. According to the authors: “Surgeon-selected music was associated with reduced autonomic reactivity and improved performance of a stressful nonsurgical laboratory task in study participants.”
Researchers have also found a dark side to music listening in the operating room: distraction. In a study published November 2008 in Surgical Endoscopy, the authors report music in the operating room could distract novice surgeons performing new tasks.
This most recent positive finding is welcomed given the changes in healthcare, the authors write.
“In the current healthcare environment, where cost reduction is center stage and operative time is money, every second counts,” according to a study published online July 10, 2015 in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal.