The Surgeon and his Music in the Operating Room
Scalpel. Sutures. iPOD!
Music fills the operating room like a symphony being played at a concert whether your surgeon is performing cardiac surgery or breast augmentation. Surgery has acquired its own soundtrack, and it can be Mozart, Frank Sinatra, or John Mayer. Unfortunately, music can become a subtle bone of contention among the members of the surgical team, but in the end the honcho in the hierarchichal operating room (the surgeon) decides the playlist.
Dissecting the Brain of the Surgeon and the Musician
Theodore Bilroth, a 19th century surgeon virtuoso and pioneer of surgical procedures to dissect abdominal tumors, was a very well-talented musician who forged a close friendship with Brahms using his piano and violin. Rene -Theophille Leannec, the father of chest medicine, was a well-known musician of his time prior to inventing the stethoscope.
- MRIs have shown that the musicians have a large left planum temple (the area responsible for acoustics and linguistics.) This explains the great accuracy in performance , excellent hand-to-eye coordination and reaction times, and very good spatial visualization.
- Analysis of surgeons' brains have some similarity to those of musicians which is necessary to have great concentration levels, great anticipation and improvisation skills, and has the capacity to listen.
A recent study in 2008 revealed that the visuo-spatial abilities of surgeons were enhanced in those involved in playing musical instruments. (JSLS. 2008 Jul-Sept; 12(3):292-294.
Music and the Operating Room
The aim of music is to arouse emotions and to provide a state of of satisfaction. Music is the most powerful of all arts and is the universal language that teaches us on how to listen and express our emotions. Music is known to reduce anxiety of the surgical team, especially the surgeon, and was found to make surgeons more efficient.
- A recent study published in 2015 showed that a panel of plastic surgeon's performance while "stitching up a wound, found higher quality stitching and 8-10% more efficient when music was played."
- a study in 1994 revealed that "when surgeons select their music in the operating room, the surgeons were less stressed, more accurate and faster in their operations."
- A study in 2010 revealed that surgeon's robotic surgical performance significantly improved when they listened to music. (Surgical Innovation. 2010. 17(4) 306-311)
As what Nietzsche would say "Without Music Life Would be a Mistake."
Emmanuel De La Cruz MD, PLLC
Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon