Surgery soundtrack: What's on the OR playlist?

Most operating rooms have a soundtrack, according to an editorial published Thursday in the British Medical Journal. Between 63 and 72 percent of the time, operating rooms pump the tunes during surgery, with a playlist likely chosen by the lead surgeon.

Music has a calming effect on patients — a study suggested when the beats per minute in a song match up with resting heart rate, it can reduce patient anxiety before anesthesia better than better than midazolam. It also has a calming effect on clinical staff. Nearly 80 percent of physicians and nurses felt music in the OR helped reduce anxiety and made them more efficient, according to BMJ.

However, it may not be appropriate for every surgery team, as some respondents felt it diminished their ability to concentrate, communicate and react to alarms. The majority of study respondents felt a soundtrack would be a distraction if an anesthesia problem occurred.

Music has more of a calming effect on clinicians who regularly listen, according to the report.

So what's on the playlist? Most ORs opt for classical music, according to BMJ.

Most physicians don't make different playlists for different procedures. However, BMJ compiled more appropriate playlist suggestions. Some of their droll choices include Toni Braxton's "Un-break My Heart" for cardiac surgeries, Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb" while waiting for anesthetic to take effect, and Wham's "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" for recovery. Among their list of surgery room don'ts, BMJ advises avoiding REM's "Everybody Hurts."


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