Art, Music, DanceChildrenSurgery

Music therapy doesn’t reduce anesthesia during surgery

A recent review concluded that among 42 studies of music therapy around the time of surgery, positive effects on reducing anxiety and pain were reported in about half.

Researchers from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School and Children’s Medical Center at Dallas looked for changes in the amount of inhaled anesthetic needed during surgery in adult patients exposed to music.

First, the details.

  • 40 patients undergoing hernia repair or gallbladder surgery under general anesthesia were randomly assigned to hear music or not.
  • All patients were connected to a BIS monitor — used to measure the depth of anesthesia.
  • After induction of anesthesia, the inhaled anesthetic, sevoflurane was adjusted to maintain BIS near 50 throughout the procedure.

And, the results.

  • The amount of sevoflurane used was virtually identical between groups.
  • Patients who listened to music reported slightly less pain, but the difference was not statistically significant.
  • Mean arterial blood pressure (the average pressure in the arteries each time the heart pumps blood) was slightly, but statistically significantly higher in patients who listened to music.

The bottom line?
The authors concluded, “Although previous work suggests that music reduces preoperative stress and may be useful during sedation, our results do not support the use of music during surgery.”

Interesting, but why should we be surprised that playing music to a person who is unconscious will change the amount of anesthetic needed to keep them asleep?

Here are summaries of positive results published in the past year. Importantly, the patients were conscious while exposed to music.

Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio

  • Playing soft music in the cast room decreased anxiety in young children who require placement or removal of a cast on a broken bone.

University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada

  • Music reduced anxiety and pain in children undergoing medical and dental procedures.

8/23/08 16:25 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.