Study: Music in operating rooms makes surgeons more efficient

As the saying goes, music is good for the soul, and surgeons are one group known to frequently listen to music while working. — AFP pic
As the saying goes, music is good for the soul, and surgeons are one group known to frequently listen to music while working. — AFP pic

AUSTIN, Aug 5 — A study led by a team at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston showed that when plastic surgeons listen to music they prefer, their surgical technique and efficiency when closing incisions is improved.

As the saying goes, music is good for the soul, and surgeons are one group known to frequently listen to music while working. Previous studies have even shown that listening to music during operations can lower the stress levels of surgeons.

Yet, until now, no study had sought to find out if listening to music they enjoy could have a positive influence on the actual efficiency in their procedures. This is the mission that a team of researchers from University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston set out to accomplish.

“The goal of this study is to evaluate the effect of music on simple wound closure,” explain the authors of the study. Furthermore, according to Dr. Andrew Zhang, UTMB assistant professor of surgery in the division of plastic and reconstructive surgery and one of the study’s authors, “Our study confirmed that listening to the surgeon’s preferred music improves efficiency and quality of wound closure, which may translate to health care cost savings and better patient outcomes.”

To get their results, which were published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal, the researchers asked 15 plastic surgery residents to close incisions on pigs’ feet obtained at a local food market — pigs’ feet are widely accepted as similar to human skin — on two consecutive days.

One half of the group operated in silence on the first day while the other group worked along to music, and on the second day, the groups were switched. The residents were not informed of the purpose of the study and were simply asked to do their best and to notify the researchers when they completed a closure. They were not told that the researchers were comparing times or that the results would be graded until the study was completed.

“We recognised that our subjects could potentially improve on the second repair simply as the result of repetition,” said author Dr. Shelby Lies, the UTMB chief plastic surgery resident. “This effect was reduced by randomly assigning the residents to music first or no music first groups.”

When the researchers analysed the results, they realised that the average repair time for all residents listening to their preferred music was 7 per cent faster than those who operated in silence. The difference was magnified depending on the experience of the residents, with senior residents accomplishing their task 10 per cent faster their equals operating without music, as opposed to an 8 per cent time reduction seen when comparing the junior residents to each other.

This study had the surgeons working along to music they liked, so it’s not clear what happens when surgeons have to operate to the tune of music they don’t care for or actively dislike. — AFP/Relaxnews

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