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Study: Better Quality Incision Closure When Plastic Surgeons Listen to Music

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A study recently published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal says that surgeons do a better job of incision closure when they listen to the music of their choice.

Listening to music is a common but widely debated practice in operating theatres. Researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) found that wound closure was much more effective with better and faster stitches when surgeons listen to music. Medical News Today reported on the research study which was based on 15 plastic surgeons who were invited to close incisions on pigs’ feet while listening to music.

The surgeons were asked to perform two identical “wound repairs” on pigs’ feet with layered stitches, on two consecutive days. They were asked to perform at their best and inform the researchers when they had finished. They were not told of the purpose of the study and were not aware that the researchers were comparing times and grading the results.

The music was either turned on or turned off. The day after the first repair,  the surgeons were asked to do another incision closing exercise using a similar technique with the music either being turned on or off, in opposition to the first closure.

The researchers realized that it was possible for the surgeons to potentially improve on the second repair simply as the result of repetition. This effect was reduced by randomly assigning the surgeons to music first or no-music-first groups.

The researchers compared the time the surgeons took to complete the incision closure and the results.

  • When their preferred music was playing, the average repair completion time  was 7% less for all the surgeons
  • Repair completion time  was 10% less for more experienced surgeons when music was played
  • Repair quality improved overall when the surgeons carried out wound closure when their preferred music was played.

Less wound repair time is beneficial for the patient as it minimizes the complications linked to longer time spent under general anesthesia. Moreover, the researchers point out that “Spending less time in the operating room can translate into significant cost reductions, particularly when incision closure is a large portion of the procedure, such as in a tummy tuck.”

Nevertheless, loud music in the operating theatre could prove disruptive, says another recent study. According to the BBC report on this research, nurses visibly struggled to hear the surgeon’s instructions when dance music and drum and bass were played loudly. The study concedes that music in the operating theatre could improve concentration if there was a lot of background noise and distractions, though the type of music and volume within the operating team is a matter that needs greater consideration.

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