Medical Study Suggests Music During Surgery Improves Surgeon Accuracy

By Steve Nagel on Aug 12, 2015 05:07 PM EDT

Lying on the surgeon's table with an anesthetic rolling through our veins is likely one of our most vulnerable positions.  All bets behind us, we must trust the surgeon to do the work they've been trained to do and the medical staff to make the surgeons as comfortable as possible to better guide their steady hand.  While a soothing session of music during surgery is still debated for possible healing effects on the unconscious patient, this new medical study by the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston suggests that music could be more beneficial to the surgeon in terms of improving performance.  This study would seem to validate many surgeons' claims that they work best with their favorite music on hand.

The most striking result of the study suggested that when music was introduced to the operating room, the speed and accuracy with which 15 sample surgeons applied stitches to pigs' feet were moderately improved.  Other results focused on the overall time of completion and time until total wound closure.  Both were concluded to be 7% quicker with music playing in the background. These reassuring results could prove useful in advertising the practice throughout multiple medical theaters.

Over the years, many studies have been conducted on the concept of music during surgery but the UTMB study seemed to focus primarily on the efficiency behind the practice.  One medical study in 1994 conducted preliminary tests while a 2011 poll in the UK showed that a majority of surgeons were already adopting the practice. This suggested a widespread perception, amongst UK surgeons that they fared better with music, despite its value being as yet unsupported.

Neither of the three studies confirmed whether any particular genre of music was more beneficial than another, except that a strong preference for a given style was key among the participants.  The UTMB study is nevertheless critical in procuring the support for the practice among boardrooms and making it a fixture among operating rooms.  Apart from the still-dubious theories of music's impact on patients, one thing is for sure: surgeons throughout the country will now have more encouragement to supplement their medical staff with medical 'staves'.

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Tagssurgery, UTMB, medical study

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