Health Surgery

Do Doctors Play Music in Surgery Rooms?

Published at 02/09/2012 04:40:20

The Calming Power of Music

Doctors, as well as nurses and assistants, find music in surgery calming and therapeutic. Music in surgery is a relaxation and stress management strategy that stimulates mental and physical health for all operating room staff. Playing  music before, during and after a medical procedure improves the focus of medical professionals and also relaxes the patient.


The ties that bind music and medicine are ancient. Apollo, who was the Greek god of healing, is pictured holding a lyre. Many important doctors have also been gifted musicians. Siddhartha Mukherjee has stated that music and medicine often "go hand in hand.”


Music for surgery rooms should be carefully selected and played at an approved volume, so that the medical professionals in surgery can hear each other. Music in surgery can also serve a sensible purpose by giving vital time management cues. Surgeons use a timed music track to monitor a surgical window. The usual way is for a nurse in surgery to call out the time, but that can be distracting and sometimes stressful for the time keeper. A recent medical survey confirms that doctors who listen to music in surgery are better at their jobs and more relaxed.

The most commonimage of an operating room is of a big white room, where the tense silence is broken by the regular chirping of a monitor, the light hum of the ventilator and the voice of a surgeon requesting a medical instrument from a nurse. In truth, the operating room is most likely to be filled with the music of a generation, favorite band or opera.

Surgeons who do not play music in surgery still benefit from the playing of music in the operating theatre. Research suggests that music helps a medic’s attention span in the field. This research also states that music should not be played in surgery with a novice surgeon, because it can be a distraction. A study in Surgical Endoscopy revealed that surgical residents performing for the first time a complex virtual operation had lower performance scores when listening to music.

For experienced surgeons, music really seems to make a difference. A 1994 Journal of the American Medical Association study chose 50 male surgeons between the ages of 31 and 61 who always listened to music while in surgery. As part of the study, measurements of heart rate, response time, blood pressure and accuracy were taken during surgery with and without music playing in the background. The study concluded that surgeons operating with self-selected music had steady vital signs and a higher rate of accuracy with music than when music was not playing in the background. In short, the playing of music in surgery leads to increased performance and decreased stress.

Patients also benefit from the playing of music in surgery. Studies have shown that patients who are allowed to listen to music while being anaesthetized and during surgery require fewer anesthetics and recover from surgery faster.



A well-equipped operating room not only includes the latest medical equipment, but a state of the art sound system and a library of CDs.