Music can reduce the anxiety and pain of invasive surgery, according to series of controlled trials published in the British Journal of Surgery. "This result makes it now possible to create guidelines for the implementation of music interventions around surgical procedures," says lead author Dr. Rosalie Kühlmann, of Erasmus MC-Sophia Children's Hospital, in The Netherlands.

Approximately 686,000 open-heart surgeries are completed each year in the United States. As early as 8–12 hours after surgery, while still in the intensive care unit, patients are assisted to a sitting position in a chair. Despite opioid medication, moderate to severe anxiety and pain have been reported during chair rest after cardiac surgery, Investigators found that intensive care patients who received sedative music experienced less anxiety than patients who received only scheduled rest.

Ironically, noise is a health hazard and a source of stress, impairing concentration and communication. Nowhere in the healthcare setting, the National Institutes of Health points out, is noise more prevalent than in the operating room. But, although noise in the OR may be unavoidable, music is a choice.

Patient safety in the operating room is a primary concern driving our manufacturing processes at Action Products. The National Institute of Safety and Health (NIOSH) sets limits for damaging noise, and we were interested to learn that the noisiest period in the OR is anesthesia induction. Since patients’ anxiety levels are likely to peak just prior to anesthetization that is precisely the time when the effects of music might be most appreciated.

In fact, in examining the use of music before, during and after surgery, researchers found that listening to tunes during all three stages proved beneficial (Stanford Calm, slow, gentle music was shown to produce the most positive results and facilitate relaxation and pain reduction in patients, they said.

“The OR is a unique work environment and requires higher levels of teamwork and communication,” Education Career Articles says. High noise levels coupled with high anxiety levels are certainly two contributing factors. Could using music to reduce general anxiety levels make the OR atmosphere less “invasive”?