Doctors rock out in the operating room
August 15th, 2011
07:41 AM ET

Doctors rock out in the operating room

Anthony Youn, M.D., is a plastic surgeon in Metro Detroit. He is the author of “In Stitches,” a humorous memoir about growing up Asian American and becoming a doctor.

Confession. I listen to Lady Gaga in the operating room.

Except when I do a facelift.

Contrary to popular belief, the operating room is not a quiet, intense place where all you hear is the beeping of the anesthesia machine and an occasional grunt from the surgeon. Most ORs are filled with music - classical, country, pop, rock, heavy metal, even hard-core gangster rap.

The few studies that have analyzed the effects of music in the OR found that music generally has a positive influence on a surgeon’s performance. President Bill Clinton must have known this when he requested music by Jimmy Buffett and Lyle Lovett for his tendon repair surgery in 1997.

Does it matter what type of music your surgeon plays? Apparently.

A study published in "Surgical Endoscopy" last year found that classical music affected surgeons more positively than hard rock or heavy metal. Another study published by "Surgical Innovation" named hip-hop and reggae the music that most benefited surgeons’ performances.

It probably comes down to taste, with surgeons finding comfort and inspiration working to the music they like to hear. And music doesn’t just affect doctors.

Multiple studies indicate that patients dig music, too. They appear more relaxed, require less anesthesia and recover quicker when physicians play tunes in the OR.

And a study published in "Injury" in 2008 found that nearly 80% of operating room support staff believed music had a positive effect on their work as well.

Or course, there’s always a flip side.

I have spent time in a few operating rooms where I believe the music created a negative impact.

I once worked with an orthopedic surgeon whose massive boom box blared Metallica’s “Kill ‘Em All” at the decibel level of a jet engine while he pounded a rod into a patient’s leg bone with a large surgical hammer.

I also know a surgeon who plays hard-core rap laced with graphic curse words guaranteed to shock, offend and annoy the nurses. This music doesn’t relax anyone in the OR.

Instead, it puts everyone on edge.

Probably the worst offender I’ve come across was a surgeon I worked with in residency who repeat-played the same CD by Phil Collins all day long. To this day, I’d rather poke my eyes out with a dull pencil than listen to “Sussudio” ever again.

So what kind of music do I play in the operating room? Depends.

I try to match the music on my iPod to the surgery I perform. For procedures that demand high intensity and concentration, like facelifts, I play softer, acoustic music, such as the Indigo Girls or Billy Joel.

For surgeries that can be more repetitious and physically-demanding, like liposuction, I put on faster music that energizes me, such as Lady Gaga or '80’s hair bands. For everything else, I go with my main man, Jimmy Buffett.

Bottom line, in my operating room, to relax me and my staff, boost morale and relieve the monotony of repetitive surgeries, I turn up the music.

One exception: That sensitive time when the nurse wheels the patient into the operating room, right before the patient falls asleep.

Patients often arrive in surgery nervous and scared. This is when I turn the volume down and play music that creates a calm, soothing environment. Best to avoid certain songs during this sensitive transition into unconsciousness.

I would hate to have the last song my patient hears before going under be “Let It Bleed,” “Take My Breath Away” or - God forbid - “Don’t Fear The Reaper.”

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soundoff (76 Responses)
  1. Bemused

    Hold on a minute... an interesting article on CNN that doesn't involve politics, Apple, Wall Street, or the Kardashians? How can this BE???

    August 15, 2011 at 08:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Chartreuxe

      So why'd you bring them up? We were doing so well...

      August 15, 2011 at 10:35 | Report abuse |
    • Wayne A. Costa Woodward

      Music in the OR and GANGSTER RAP! How stupid and unprofessional. Do your freakin jobs you're not at the country club!

      October 27, 2015 at 23:54 | Report abuse |
  2. Mamudoon

    Hehe, I've had surgeons who played hip-hop in the OR. Made me feel really comfortable, especially when the surgery you're undergoing is potentially life-threatening. It put me at ease and was quite amusing.

    August 15, 2011 at 09:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. petercha

    If I was about to go under the knife, I'd be most comforted by traditional Christian hymns.

    August 15, 2011 at 09:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rachael

      My dad says that too, but on the other hand, it could also scare some people (think about it- hearing "Nearer My God to Thee" as you go under?). I think my favourite would be something kind of funny, or pleasant- maybe Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit", which would make me giggle because of the drug associations. On the other hand, like you, some people would want something comforting, or with a substantial message.

      August 15, 2011 at 17:56 | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Metallica's "Kill 'Em All" did sound good to me... Emperor's "In the Nightside Eclipse" would be soothing, too.

      August 16, 2011 at 11:11 | Report abuse |
  4. alimonyjones

    Most of the veterinary surgeons at Auburn University play music in the OR with the same range of styles. Too heavy on the country, though.

    August 15, 2011 at 09:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • padlefeet

      alimony...sooo..how many times have these vet students cut you open? I am only in my second week at the highly acclaimed,learn online in just 3 days,the only 32 star,Acupuncture-made-easy school in the entire SW section of this town.,I can get the same results you get at Auburns Vet labs with just $14.83 outta your pocket while awake.

      August 15, 2011 at 09:56 | Report abuse |
    • Chartreuxe


      August 15, 2011 at 10:34 | Report abuse |
  5. Jiffknee

    Ha! When being wheeled in for the removal of my gall-bladder, "Don't Fear the Reaper" was being played in the OR. One of the nurses nearly ran over to turn it off. It made me laugh then and still does...

    August 15, 2011 at 09:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Fifi

      I suppose it's better than "The hip bone's connected to the thigh bone, the thigh bone's connected to the knee bone, the knee bone's connected to the shin bone, oh hear the word of the Lord...". But why am I not surprised it was a nurse who realized the music was inappropriate?

      August 15, 2011 at 15:06 | Report abuse |
    • o.k.

      I've got a fever. And the only prescription is more cow bell.

      August 15, 2011 at 17:12 | Report abuse |
    • Kim

      Haha! That's actually one of my favorite songs. I would have asked them to leave it on and not just because of my twisted sense of humor!

      August 15, 2011 at 20:04 | Report abuse |
  6. sofie

    I really like the idea of the surgeon playing music in the OR. I have a fear of all things medical so when I had my knee surgery I relaxed to the Dave Matthews Band, Jack Johnson, and others prior to being put under. Being able to listen to music always calms my nerves and I am sure it works the same way for the medical staff. No matter how good you are your job when someone's life is in your hands it has got to be stressful. Although, I admit, I would find it amusing if I were about to go under the knife and heard Don't Fear the Reaper playing. My sense of humor is a bit odd.

    August 15, 2011 at 09:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. alimonyjones

    Padlefeet honey, how do you spay a dog your way? And sugeons generally cut dogs, not students. 'Fraid you can't learn that online.

    August 15, 2011 at 10:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Carlos

    During my surgery my surgeon was jamming to J Hendricks...nice....If I heard Don't Fear the Reaper I would have been jamming myself...love that song.

    August 15, 2011 at 10:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dave

      I with you, Carlos. I'm going to have that BOC tune in my head all day now.

      August 16, 2011 at 11:15 | Report abuse |
  9. Chartreuxe

    If I had heard Don't Fear the Reaper I would have been comforted during one of my 30 or so surgeries...especially my next-to-last one. I didn't expect to wake up from that one. It was a pleasant surprise when I did.

    August 15, 2011 at 10:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Ashleigh

    The one time I had a major surgery, the surgeon asked me what type of music they should listen to. I told him I didn't give a damn what kind of music was on...I wanted HIM happy and focused!! 🙂

    August 15, 2011 at 10:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Dulcie - Denver

    I've had 3 orthopedic surgeries in the last year and only the hand specialist didn't have music playing when I was wheeled in. I don't recall what the hip surgeon had playing, but I do remember thinking he had good taste before I floated off to La-La Land.

    August 15, 2011 at 10:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. SSG Jughead

    It tickles me to know that they would be jam'n to music. Some Boroque to focus. Wonder what they listen to at Dover, Delaware?

    August 15, 2011 at 11:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Jason

    We tend to start our Cardiovascular rooms with 'Damaged' for laughs. I remember calling my wife from and OR where we were playing 80's rap–very loudly. Told her the surgery was running late, she asked where I was and insisted it didn't sound like an OR at all. 🙂

    August 15, 2011 at 11:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Fifi

      Yeah, hilarious...jerk. Would have been really funny if the patient died because no one could hear the surgeon's instructions or the equipment?

      August 15, 2011 at 14:16 | Report abuse |
  14. Psyllum

    As a gastroeneterologist, I will listen to jazz, classical, or quiet rock in the room but the following rules must apply in my room (1) patient must not be made to feel uncomfortable and professionalism must not be compromised (2) the monitor beeps must be easily heard (3) Neither myself nor the staff should need to raise their voice to easily communicate over the music. Basically–patient safety and professional decorum must not be compromised.

    August 15, 2011 at 13:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Fifi

      Thank you for that. Those are my feeling exactly , as the patient. It's a pity we can't assume that surgeons don't have the same principles.

      August 15, 2011 at 14:13 | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      Very safe rules to live by in the OR. As an anesthesiologist, I do not listen to the music, I listen to my monitors beeping and toning and I keep an ear on surgeons and nurses to know what all is happening!!! Your rules of the road ensure patient safety!!! Thanx, doc!!!

      August 15, 2011 at 19:12 | Report abuse |
  15. Fifi

    It took you an awfully long time to mention the wants and needs of the "support staff," doc - much less the effect on the patient. It's all about you, eh? I would never purchase your services, knowing that about you. Energizing music for liposuction? Lady Gaga ("I want your disease...")? Please. I was inadequately sedated for a minor but extremely painful surgical procedure a few years ago. I heard what went on in the OR, but couldn't will myself to say anything. I was in a strange, semi-paralytic state, with full consciousness. Thankfully, there was no music, but what I heard and saw was enough to keep me off the operating table for anything short of emergency surgery. I am willing to bet that if a patient of yours had the same experience I did, and you took no notice because you were rocking to Gaga, you'd place the blame on the "support staff" or the anesthesiologist. Just because you are the top dog in the OR, that doesn't give you the right to discount the comfort and safety of all those below you. Shame on you for your selfishness. (BTW, your story abou the orthopedic surgeon co firms the impression I have of those guys: bottom of the class, macho types. Two of the biggest jerks I knew in college became orthos.)

    August 15, 2011 at 14:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • IgM

      I'm sorry that you were awake for part of your procedure, I can't imagine how scary that must be. However, that IS the fault of the anesthesiologist, whose entire purpose is to make sure you are unconscious, not the job of the surgeon.

      August 15, 2011 at 14:36 | Report abuse |
    • Fifi

      IGM, yes it was a sedation problem, but if the surgeon had taken the time to look into the patient's eyes, to ask questions and look for any sign of response, he might have noticed a problem. I think it's morally wrong as well as extremely dangerous for responsibilities in the OR to be as rigidly divided as they are. You know that checklist some hospitals use? Maybe they should add a "surgeon and head nurse make certain patient can't feel or hear anything before cutting into her," and do that every 15 minutes or so. If the surgeon took responsibility for everything being correct before proceeding, we'd have a lot fewer wrong-side surgeries, wrong-patient surgeries, etc. Delegation of responsibility can foster irresponsibility.

      August 15, 2011 at 14:57 | Report abuse |
    • sig

      again, that is still the anesthesiologist's job to check your consciousness and appropriate sedation. Otherwise the surgeon will not be able to maintain sterile environment necessary for your surgery. It sounds like you had a bad experience with your surgery. But then again, how would you have responded if the surgeon asked you questions to assess you if you "couldn't will [yourself] to say anything?" Sounds like surgeon asking you questions would have yielded nothing.

      There are other ways to assess your level of consciousness during surgery. Your eyes are shut to protect your cornea during surgery. To me, it sounds like you had a very bad experience with your particular surgery but you're blame for your bad experience should be placed elsewhere. Quite frankly, it's ignorant.

      August 15, 2011 at 16:53 | Report abuse |
    • Taurus

      Yes, IF there was an anesthesiologist involved, it is that professional physician's job to ensure the comfort of the patient; however, there are some cases where the surgeon elects to do a procedure with local anesthesia and direct the RN to provide some milder level of sedation to the patient without an anesthesiologist taking care of the patient.

      August 15, 2011 at 22:49 | Report abuse |
  16. Blossie

    The downside to the music is the fact that sometimes it is played so loud, that the anesthetist has a difficult time hearing the patient alarms on the monitors.

    August 15, 2011 at 14:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Fifi

      And they have the highest malpractice insurance.

      August 15, 2011 at 14:17 | Report abuse |
    • Taurus

      As an anesthesiologist, I can guarantee you that if I feel that the music is so loud as to interfere with my ability to monitor my patient's life, I will have no problem having it turned down. There will be no obnoxious music as I take my patient from a sedated state of mind to unconsciousness (and, believe me, I love my rock and roll). It is not all about the surgeon, but all about the patient in "my" operating room.

      August 15, 2011 at 22:46 | Report abuse |
  17. aubrie

    Some surgeons put head phones on you and let YOU choose what you want to hear during surgery. It was relaxing while they were prepping everything.... Reduced the fear considerably.

    August 15, 2011 at 14:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Loryncello

    Isn't Billy Joel an odd choice for a cosmetic surgery procedure? "Don't go changing..."

    August 15, 2011 at 14:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Sumo

    I kinda wish doctors would just stop screwing around and do their jobs properly. As a hospital worker myself, I've seen too many instances of doctors and RNs playing grab-a$$ in the ER and making careless mistakes, with sometimes fatal results...

    August 15, 2011 at 14:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jill

      Agree, let a professional act like one. And we wonder why our Health system is all screwed up. This is a small part of it but its still a part.

      August 15, 2011 at 16:18 | Report abuse |
    • Jon

      @jill: The healthcare system is screwed up for a lot of reasons. Listening to the music isn't on anyone's top 10 list. Litigious medical-legal environment? Yes. Profiteering hospital administrators who have little to no medical training? Yep. Rampant price gouging by pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers? Uh huh. Public aid paying only a tiny fraction of the cost to provide care? Definitely. Let's not politicize a discussion about some people who want to listen to some tunes while they work.

      August 15, 2011 at 18:37 | Report abuse |
    • Reba

      @Jon, you got it. Spot on.

      August 15, 2011 at 19:51 | Report abuse |
    • jill

      @jon, if you read my post you would see I was referring to the grab butt comment Sumo was referring to as being part of a screwed up system as a small part of the health care issues. So I again say, its part of it. Yes the other reasons you gave are also reasons and have their part. But the maturity level is a reflection of who they are while in the work place. Im not talking about the fact they listen to music being a part of the health issue, I listed that separately as the issue with another issue.....if I had it my way I would not want the surgeon to listen to distracting music while they are working on me. But I have never been given the choice. However; I was not put out for one surgery and they did not play music and my surgeon was great and professional and so was his staff. Id take that guy to work on me anytime.

      August 15, 2011 at 22:44 | Report abuse |
    • Independent311

      I know it's off topic... But price gouging by medical device manufacturers?? Really?? *That* is what's driving up the price of healthcare?? I'd say select manufacturers gouge on select product for limited periods of time.... But with the current economic environment, hospitals are gouging us (medical device manufacturers) more than we gouge them. The kinds of price regulations that are going into place is ridiculous. It essentially limits care. So, if you want your care limited and the hospitals to discourage technological innovation from entering the O.R., then sure lets beat up on medical device manufacturers. Seriously though, the hospital staff always thinks medical device companies and reps are "rolling in the dough" when in actuality we're finding it increasingly difficult just to make ends meet. I would agree with your statement that administrators are making decisions based on financial incentive. The bean counters with B.Ss in Business Admin are the ones who make ultimate decisions about what gets in and what doesn't in the O.R. That's kind of scary if you ask me. Most people have no idea... (This is coming from an independently contracted sales rep so take it with a grain of salt if you choose)

      August 15, 2011 at 23:52 | Report abuse |
  20. jill

    Really? There are studies trying to say music makes people do stupid things like committ murder or acts of violence but yet its ok for Doctors to listen to the same type of music with our lives in their hands??? What a mixed up theory.

    August 15, 2011 at 16:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Jon

    I used to work with an anesthetist who thought it was cute to play Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb" as he was putting patients to sleep. Just google the lyrics if you're not sure why this is amusing/concerning. I had a podiatrist once do an operation with AC/DC's immortal "Highway to Hell" going full blast as the patient was going to sleep. "You're on a hiiiiiiiighway to hell. On a hiiiiiighway to hell..." Just what you want to hear as you're about to go under the knife, eh?

    However, if you're in the same room with a small group of people day in and day out, you should be allowed to listen to some tunes and show some personality once in a while.

    August 15, 2011 at 18:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. bbcares

    I am a surgeon and I do enjoy music in the operating room. Though the perception is we are the top dogs in the OR, I can tell you that is not the case. Scrub nurses, supporting staff, etc must all be comfortable to ensure adequate care of the patient under the knife. Some studies show its benefit, others not. The verdict is still out. It does make me more relaxed and better suited to care for my patients. In that moment, I believe what is better for me, is better for them.

    August 15, 2011 at 18:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jill

      bbcares- If you were my surgeon and you told me ahead of time you preferred music and asked me my thoughts, Id give you my reasons why I wouldnt want it. Im paying your salary to do my surgery so I expect the service I expect. However; if you gave me a good reason for your wanting the music and I thought it was best for you and me then I would also agree. I went to another hospital i didnt chose so my surgeon would feel more comfortable than me. I agree if your happy it makes a better condition in the end. But Id still like the choice.

      August 15, 2011 at 22:49 | Report abuse |
    • jill

      bbcares- also I agree the surgeon is not the top dog....all the people in the room are all important in the surgery. They all have a part to make it work smoothly. Ive seen nurses do more work than any doctor or surgeon but dont get the credit. However; you are all important to me and have important roles. Keep educated and continually care for your patient as if they were your closes family member.

      August 15, 2011 at 22:51 | Report abuse |
    • rca5

      Jill, the nurse is not cutting nor ultimately responsible for the patient. That is a very ignorant thought. Nurses are very valuable, I agree, however, your viewpoints of the OR are incorrect. I think you should take advice from BENNY's post or be bold enough to go to medical school yourself and make a change.

      August 16, 2011 at 09:24 | Report abuse |
    • Savanna


      I'm a nurse in the OR and in no way does a nurse outperform a surgeon. I could never do what they do and I have intense respect for them. And I LOVE listening to music in the OR. I have learned that a happy surgeon is a better surgeon, and music makes my surgeons happy. A surgeon listening to classic rock or Lady Gaga in no way impairs their ability to operate safely or make conscientious decisions regarding their next maneuvers. The right music is as important to an OR as competent staff.

      That said, while the surgeon is the one operating, I'm the one running the show. If I feel the surgeon is at a critical part of a surgery and would benefit from the music being turned off for a few minutes, I turn it off. I never let the surgeon play music when a patient is awake or going to sleep. And if the music being played only builds tension in the OR (I know a vascular doctor who loves heavy metal), I ask to listen to something else.

      PS – Versed is ONLY given to reduce a patient's anxiety prior to surgery. It is not given so that the OR staff can do or say whatever they want. While the patient probably won't remember anything after receiving Versed, we still maintain a high level of professionalism ESPECIALLY while the patient is awake. Anyone who doesn't act respectful isn't allowed in my OR. Sure, there are people who do take advantage of a patient on Versed, but they don't last very long.

      August 17, 2011 at 12:22 | Report abuse |
  23. Dave

    These days many operating room procedures are performed using 'conscious sedation' under the direction of the surgeon and NO anesthesiologist is present nor responsible for patient awareness. Types of surgery done under surgeon directed sedation include eye surgeries, GI endoscopies, lots of cosmetic procedures, excision of small superficial lesions, biopsies, some hand, wrist, and foot surgeries and so on.

    August 15, 2011 at 18:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Scruboyjohn

    Loved the article...as a surgical tech. for many years, music can help keep the focus of all those who work in the OR. I have spent alot of money over the years purchasing music to suit all tastes of music. This has proved an invaluable tool to soothe a particular transplant surgeon I once worked with, when he became upset during a case, playing Fleetwood Mac or The Big Chill Soundtrack helped calm him right away. Calming his mood and hands actually made the surgery go smoother and I believe a better result for the patient. However if the music is offensive to any person in the room, patient, staff or Dr. the off button is the best option.

    August 15, 2011 at 19:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. JakeW

    As a gastroenterologist who performs a lot of endoscopies using moderate sedation and as a lover of music in general, I would guess I do a better job while playing music during endoscopies. I have a fairly extensive music selection on iPod and oftentimes either ask the patient what they would like to hear or guess what they might like to, based on their age and what was popular in their formative years.

    Playing Vera Lynn for an Englishwoman who was a schoolgirl in Britain during the blitz or songs in German for patients born in Germany are some of my favorite things I've done with music in the endoscopy suite. Then there was the time when someone asked to hear the rap song Regulate by Warren G and Nate Dogg and was surprised that this 50+ gastroenterologist had it among his 30000 songs on his iPod.

    August 15, 2011 at 19:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jill

      Jake do you every play Baby's got back....haha Or Bertha Butt....sorry couldnt resist.

      August 15, 2011 at 22:55 | Report abuse |
  26. Reba

    As a physician myself who just underwent major eye surgery, I can tell you that not only was my surgeon playing music when they wheeled me in the OR, I encouraged him to turn it up. He or she can listen to anything they want provided it helps them do their job better.

    August 15, 2011 at 19:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. susie

    My mom just had a 2x CABG and her surgeon rocked to VH! when he came to talk to my sister and me after the (glowingly successful) surgery, his cell phone rang, and his ring tone made our jaws drop, then we turned into Beavis and Butthead!

    August 15, 2011 at 20:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. jill

    I know this is not directly related to the subject matter but I would like to comment on the fact that the VERSED they give you to put you out for surgery is used to the staff CAN DO ANYTHING, or SAY anything to you without being held accountable for law suits. This drug has NOTHING to do with stopping your pain during the surgery like its relayed to you before your surgery. Its a drug to make you FORGET everything 5 min or so before surgery , during surgery, and shortly after they bring you to consiouse state. They try to tell you its to relax you..COME ON DOC's dont think we are so stupid....if you think I might have pain during surgery give me pain medications not memory lost drugs.

    August 15, 2011 at 23:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JS

      yes.. with a insane comment like that, you are. Versed is technically an anxiolytic, or used to decrease anxiety. Youre ignorance is humorous. Where do you come up with comments like that. Please get your GED.

      August 16, 2011 at 01:14 | Report abuse |
    • Gina

      @JS – Amen! Thank you for calling Jill out!

      August 16, 2011 at 09:12 | Report abuse |
    • at#3

      Do yourself a favor. Study hard, take the tests, spend over 150,000 dollars on your education, go to doctor school, and do a residency. By that time, hopefully you will have the fundamentals down to realize how ridiculous your comments are. Doctors A) don't do this for the cash, they are evidence driven, science minded people B) any other business is easier 3) they are smart enough to know that.

      August 16, 2011 at 09:16 | Report abuse |
  29. Independent311

    I'm a medical device sales rep which places me in the O.R. pretty often. It's rare these days that a surgeon *doesn't* put music on during the case. The room has a more relaxed feel, everyone isn't as stiff and serious. Of course you want the staff to maintain professionalism. But when people get too uptight, they don't think, and consequently mistakes are made. Music just helps people to relax and do their job without more undue pressure than is already present in surgery. Good stuff.

    August 15, 2011 at 23:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. benny

    I am a surgeon who also love listening to music in the OR, as it makes for a much more relaxing atmosphere. The music does not go on until the patient is asleep, just in case it makes them uncomfortable. Although I have never had a patient tell me not to turn music on like some posters below have said they would, that is an unreasonable request to me and I will let them know that. I don't go into anyone's place of business and tell them how to do their work so I expect the same.

    August 16, 2011 at 02:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. pacman357

    As a hard rock and metal fan, I wouldn't mind hearing "Don't Fear the Reaper" when going under general anesthesia. In fact, I'd probably find it pretty relaxing. Then again, I've seen Ozzy live three times (as well as dozens and dozens of hard rock and metal acts), so maybe I'm a little sick. If I heard Sussido, I might actually try to gouge the surgeon with a scalpel. BTW, please don't play Indigo Girls or Billy Joel if you're going to operate on me. I've been a male all my life, and after close to half a century, I've gotten pretty accustomed to being male. Plus, I'm 6'3" and where a size 14 shoe. I don't want to wake up with a vijayjay. It's tough enough to find clothes and shoes in my size already.

    August 16, 2011 at 04:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Gary

    I want Van Halen and David Lee Roth while having any surgery and I would mad very mad if I awoke to Boy George, that's a law suit.

    August 16, 2011 at 08:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. T

    Ever hear Weird Al Yankovic's "Like a Surgeon" ?

    August 16, 2011 at 08:48 | Report abuse | Reply

    I practiced surgery for over 28 years. I am also an amateur concert pianist (I can play all of the Beethoven piano concertoes). This is not intended to boast, but simply mentioning that I could NEVER listen to classical music when doing surgery because I would find myself concentrating too much on it and not enough on what I was doing.

    Obviously that's not a good thing. So I always turned the music off. I could never listen to rock music there either. I don't have anything against rock music but would find it annoying in an OR. Rap is horrible and I detest it. But I'm white and old, what do you expect?


    August 16, 2011 at 09:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. ogc

    I am a plastic surgeon and prefer a quiet room where there is not only no music, but where the staff is silent, not chatting. The operation generally requires full attention, and subtle clues during surgery that one sees in the field require a change in approach that can be critical to the outcome. If the surgeon is distracted by music or chatter, less than optimal decisions are made.

    Absence of music and silence, though not the most comfortable, inspires in the staff the appropriate focus and reminds them of the seriousness of the operation. Too often staff chat away during the operation making it difficult for the surgeon or themselves to concentrate on the task at hand.

    Imagine if Capt Sullenberger was rocking to Gaga when trying to fly the plane over the Hudson. Surgery is no less serious a matter.

    August 16, 2011 at 09:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. lala

    interesting article! i am a RN but have never worked in the OR. I knew that music was played sometimes but didn't know it is so widespread. found it particularly interesting for two reasons, one, just watched an older movie called "The Doctor" starring William Hurt in which he was a surgeon who BLASTED music in the OR and generally acted like an overall ***hole in there, told my hubby i thought it was way exaggerated – probably need to apologize for that lol. 2nd, last week I had two minor surgeries, one under IV sedation and one under full general anesthesia and no music was heard in either one. wonder if they waited until i was under before they started it. would not have minded it playing with the exception of the loud head banging or hard core rap stuff that to me has a negative connotation. but i could go with "Don't Fear the Reaper", it would have actually made me laugh, i have seen that skit so many times. NEED MORE COWBELL!! cool article to comment on, for once!

    August 16, 2011 at 09:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Tom

    If I'm the guy on the OR table, I'd want the music to be whatever the surgeon needs to keep him at the top of his game.

    August 16, 2011 at 10:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. marc gunn

    I don't think this is a good thing. If you want ultimate concentration you do not play music, or you play it very lightly. Think about it, would exam scores improve if we played music? Playing music is like turning it into a game and is a distraction. I treat my surgeries and patients with the utmost seriousness...

    August 16, 2011 at 10:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Orthodoc

    II as an orthopaedic surgeon also listen to music while operating. As other physicians have also said, the music is off when the patient is coming in and out of the room, and while the patient is going to sleep / waking up. But, during the procedure, I find that music relaxes me, helps me concentrate, and boosts morale of everyone in the room.

    For those who think that listening to music is "wrong," or interferes with the concentration of the surgeon, please reread the article above. As the author astutely points out, scientific studies have shown that music "has a positive influence on a surgeon's performance." Another study cited pointed out that "80% of operating room support staff believed music had a positive effect on their work as well." Thus, before criticizing physicians and staff for wanting to be at their best during surgeries, please reread the article and the scientific research behind it.

    Now that being said, I believe that obnoxious or loud sounding music can be distracting, and even unsafe. Music should be kept to levels where conversations and machines can easily be heard. And in most cases should not be playing during induction of anesthesia or waking of the patient. With regards to the type of music – classical, jazz, hip-hop, or complete silence – every surgeon has their own individual tastes as to what helps him/her concentrate and perform their best. For me, 80s music puts me in a great mood and keeps me on top of my game.

    August 16, 2011 at 11:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Ollga

    LOVE THIS ARTICLE> and love reading this surgeons posts. He is so entertaining.

    November 9, 2011 at 02:02 | Report abuse | Reply
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  42. Jenzi

    I still remember hearing a neurosurgeon from the San Francisco area, who was a contestant on NPR's quiz show Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me, say that he listened to Led Zeppelin while operating. That still makes me chuckle, since Led Zeppelin's only my all-time favorite band, BUT I can't understand for the life of me how that guy could concentrate on something like neurosurgery while listening to them...because there'd be no way I ever could! On the other hand, if I was the one on the table and heard their music in the OR, I think I'd not only totally relax, I'd be feeling very little pain.

    January 16, 2013 at 21:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. frances campbell

    I worked in an operating theatre and heard a report of a 7 year old child, when wheeled into the theatre, complained about the loud music being played. Not one person acknowledged that it obviously disturbed the patient and that he was probably feeling very, very apprehensive- at least enough for him to speak up about it. Behaviour in operating theatres is pretty disgraceful at the best of times and most surgeons that allow this head banging music to go on, do it as a form of exhibitionism. They are jerks and sadistic and there is no way the monitor beeps can be heard over loud music and any directions being verbalised cant be heard either. Grow up and remember what goes around comes around. Retards.

    July 15, 2013 at 10:28 | Report abuse | Reply
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