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While there have been safety concerns about surgeons listening to music during their procedures, a new study published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal this July suggests that it is in everyone’s best interest for surgeons to continue to “rock on” in the operating room (OR). While it has been previously shown that music can reduce stress in surgeons and in patients undergoing surgery, few studies have directly studied the surgeons’ performance in the presence or absence of music.

Because of the similarity of human skin texture to pig skin texture, researchers asked 15 plastic surgeons to close a wound on pigs feet using layered stitching. On one day, the surgeons did the wound closure listening to their music of choice, and the following day, the surgeons would complete the procedure without music. The surgeons were randomly assigned to perform the procedure with or without music on day one and did the opposite on day two in order to account for the fact that a surgeon’s skill might improve on the second day due to having already done the procedure the day before. In addition, the surgeons were not told what the purpose of the study was, only that they should do their best.

Is it safe for surgeons to be listening to music while operating?

Image Source: Stone | Thierry Dosogne

For all surgeons, the time it took to close the wounds decreased by 8% when listening to their preferred music. For senior resident surgeons, time decreased by an even larger margin of 10%. The quality of the wound closures also improved with music compared to no music playing. Quality was judged by a panel who did not know who the surgeons were or what the conditions of the procedure were. When the study was repeated, the results remained the same regardless of if the music was played on day one or day two.

The researchers suggest that improvements in the speed and quality of wound closures can have a number of positive impacts. First, it reduces the time patients are on the operating table and decreases the chance of complications. Also, less time spent in the operating room translates to a decrease in healthcare costs. So don’t forget that iPod at home, doc.

Feature Image Source: Main Hospital Operating Room by VCU Libraries

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