It's music to surgeons' ears: Patients may emerge from surgery more quickly when operations are accompanied by the physician's preferred soundtrack, the results of a small study suggest.
Movie surgeons (most recently, the sports doc played by Bill Hader in this summer's hit comedy “Trainwreck”) have long endearingly or flamboyantly operated to tunes, a case of art imitating life. Now, doctors at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston report musical accompaniment may result in speedier surgery and neater stitches. The researchers asked 15 residents in plastic surgery to stitch up pigs' feet, with and without music. (Pig feet are easy to get and pig skin is similar to human skin, the authors said.)
The results, published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal, found that those who listened to their favorite music finished the task 8% faster. Judges reviewed the work without knowing which operations had been performed to music and ranked their quality on a 1 to 5 scale.
Senior residents were faster, with a 10% drop in surgical time. Authors Shelby Lies and Andrew Zhang said that could mean substantial savings: “A 10% reduction in operative time per hour equals savings of $396 per hour.”
Surgeons who listened to music did slightly better when graded on multiple measures, including suture-knot visibility or unraveling, and uniform appearance.
Residents were randomly assigned to hear music or operate in silence. Researchers than asked residents to do the task again, but flipped the musical assignment. Notably, residents were allowed to pick a preferred type of music on Pandora.
Taste varied, the authors said. “Genres of music preferred by the study participants included rock, hip-hop, pop, Latin and classical, with a diverse distribution.”