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Why Do Surgeons Listen To Music in the Operating Theatre?

Ever wondered why surgeons listen to music in the operating theatre?

All over the world, you will find surgeons listening to music as they operate. Some studies say this can help them relax and reduce stress.

Two researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch have described how they invited 15 plastic surgeons to close incisions on pigs feet and found when they did this while listening to their preferred music, their stitches were better and faster. The researchers used pig’s feet because they are widely accepted as similar to human skin when it comes to practising wound closure. The surgeons were invited to carry out two identical ‘wound repairs’ on pigs feet, using layered stitches, on 2 consecutive days. The participants were not told the purpose of the study. They were simply asked to perform at their best and tell the researchers when they had finished. They did not know the researchers were comparing times and grading the results until after the study. When they compared the results, the researchers found the average completion time of the repair for all the surgeons was 7% less when their preferred music was playing, and 10% less for more experienced surgeons.

A chief plastic surgery resident comments; “spending less time in the operating room can translate into significant cost reductions, particularly when incision closure is a large portion of the procedure, such as in a tummy tuck”. He notes that reducing wound repair time is also better for the patient, as longer time spent under general anaesthesia is linked to higher risk of complications. The researchers also compared the quality of the work, and results showed that repair quality improved overall when surgeons carried out wound closures while listening to their preferred music.

Dr Turner’s patients may or may not be aware that he always has his favourite music playing whilst in the operating theatre!!

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Accolades& associations

  • Australian Society of Plastic Surgery
  • Fellow of Royal Australasian College of Surgeons
  • Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons
  • International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons
  • American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons
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