Surgeons more efficient when listening to preferred music: Study

Surgeons efficiency preferred musicThere’s no doubt that music can affect our mood. Whether it makes us happy, or provokes a memory, music has a way of taking over. New research suggests that when surgeons listen to their preferred style of music their stitches are completed better and faster.

The study comes from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. Previous research has shown that music in the operating room lowered stress in surgeons, but the effect of music on surgical precision had yet to be examined.


For the study, 15 plastic surgeon residents were asked to close incisions with layered stitches on pigs’ feet taken from a local market. The residents were not informed of the study, but were just told to do their best and notify a researcher when complete. During the first practice there was no use of music. On the second day the residents were asked to perform the same task with music either on or off.

“We recognized that our subjects could potentially improve on the second repair simply as the result of repetition,” said author Shelby Lies, who is also the UTMB chief plastic surgery resident. “This effect was reduced by randomly assigning the residents to music first or no music first groups.”

When preferred music was playing, completion of the closure was seven percent shorter as opposed to when no music was played. The results were greater seen in residents with more experience. Senior residents reduced their closure time by 10 percent.

“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,” Lies added.

“Longer duration under general anesthesia is also linked with increased risk of adverse events for the patient.”

Plastic surgeons unaware of the study judged the residents work and all reported that among those who listened to their preferred music the stitches were completed with higher quality.


“Our study confirmed that listening to the surgeon’s preferred music improves efficiency and quality of wound closure, which may translate to health care cost savings and better patient outcomes,” said Andrew Zhang, UTMB assistant professor of surgery in the division of plastic and reconstructive surgery.

The findings were published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal.


Author Bio

Emily Lunardo studied medical sociology at York University with a strong focus on the social determinants of health and mental illness. She is a registered Zumba instructor, as well as a Canfit Pro trainer, who teaches fitness classes on a weekly basis. Emily practices healthy habits in her own life as well as helps others with their own personal health goals. Emily joined Bel Marra Health as a health writer in 2013.