A Playlist Connected to a Pillow Before, During and After An Operation
Editor's Note: Recently we had an operation on a little-known type of hernia, the spiegelian, named for a Flemish anatomist and physician, Adriaan van den Spiegel, 1578-1625. Our operation was on an emergency basis, or else we might have opted for a musical playlist of our own (see below).
Title page of Spigelius, De Humani Corpis. Wellcome, Wikimedia Commons
"Listening to music before, during and after an operation can help reduce pain," BBC News reports. An analysis of data found evidence that people who listened to music had reduced anxiety and were less likely to request pain relief.
Listening to music during a surgical procedure is a very different thing, and it is important to note that this is not routine practice in the National Health Service [United Kingdom]. You would not normally expect to be able to choose to have music played to you while unconscious under a general anaesthetic, for example. But for procedures performed while you are awake under local or spinal anaesthesia this could be possible.
Researchers say that following up this work, the Royal London Hospital is conducting an experiment where about 40 women having either a caesarean section or another gynaecological procedure will be given the chance to have their playlist connected to a pillow with in-built speakers.
There are no known negative effects of listening to music, and you would be expected to be free to listen to personal music before a surgical procedure (for example while waiting to be taken to the operating theatre) or when recovering on the ward after. And if you find music helps you relax in these situations, it must be a good thing.
If you are having an operation in the near future you may want to start putting a playlist together. We recommend something soothing – Mozart as opposed to Motörhead.
The study was carried out by researchers from Queen Mary University, Barts Health NHS Trust and Brunel University, all in London. Researchers say that this study received no funding from any organisation.
The study was published in the peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet. Several UK media sources have covered this story. Overall, media reported the results accurately. However, some of the limitations of the study are not fully explained.
BBC News reported a quote from one of the lead authors of this study, Dr Catherine Meads, who said that listening to Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon album helped soothe her pain three hours after hip surgery in April 2015. She says, "music was a safe, cheap and non-invasive option that should be available to everyone having surgery".
She added: "Currently music is not used routinely during surgery to help patients in their postoperative recovery. The lack of uptake is often down to the scepticism of professionals as to whether it genuinely works, and of course issues of budget and the integration into daily practice."
The Daily Mirror also provides some song suggestions of its own, including Smooth Operator by Sade, Getting Better by The Beatles and The First Cut is the Deepest by Rod Stewart.
This was a systematic review and meta-analysis that aimed to assess the effects of music before, during or after surgery in reducing pain and anxiety in postoperative patients. Researchers say that music was first found to be helpful in patients during operations in 1914 and since then several studies have investigated the effects of music on emotions, pain and sensation. There are even reports of Florence Nightingale using music to improve her patients' morale.
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