Although it’s an ongoing debate on whether listening to music can help you focus, many of us are tuned in at work to block out outside noise and maintain focus on individual tasks at hand. This includes surgeons operating on patients. According to a report published by the BMJ, 62-72% of the time there is operating room music being played during surgery and is most often chosen by the leading surgeon.
After a user on Quora asked, “Why do surgeons listen to music in the operating room?“, Dr. Madiwalesh Chhebbi responded, “We love music. It helps calm the nerves, keep mind focussed, achieve higher levels of concentration, blurs the beeps from the monitors and the anesthetists’ boring talks.”
In a study by the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), they found that surgeons listening to music completed stitches about 7% faster than those working without music. In ways, music not only benefits the surgeon but the patient as well. Faster surgeries mean health care cost savings and less time spent under general anesthesia, which translates to increased chances of better patient outcomes.
Even Bill Hader’s character in the movie Trainwreck, Dr. Aaron Conners, who is a knee surgeon, likes to blast Uptown Girl by Bill Joel while performing knee surgery on star athletes like it’s just another day in the office.
So what do surgeons actually listen to in the OR?
We decided to ask real surgeons what kind of operating room music they prefer and below we quoted some of their answers:
“Classical music may be soothing but I think the best music to listen to during surgery is what the surgeon likes to hear. I have heard heavy rock during tedious surgeries such as microsurgery, moved my feet to pop and swayed with a piece from Wagner.
Do you remember studying for a test? Some people like it quiet, others can study if they were sitting next to a deafening speaker.
The real question is who gets to pick the music in the room, the anesthesiologist or the surgeon. I kid you not! There are actually arguments at times. I favor the surgeon, perhaps I am biased.”
Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon, Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) at Midwestern Regional Medical Center