The sounds of si­lence (and jazz) help some after surgery

Modern Healthcare - - OUTLIERS | ASIDES & INSIDES -

Lis­ten­ing to Dave Brubeck per­form the Hoagy Carmichael clas­sic “Star­dust” may not be­come stan­dard pro­ce­dure in surgery re­cov­ery rooms, but re­searchers at Penn State Mil­ton S. Her­shey (Pa.) Med­i­cal Cen­ter found that elec­tive hys­terec­tomy pa­tients had sig­nif­i­cantly lower post-surgery heart rates when they lis­tened to that tune and other jazz num­bers.

The same ef­fect was found for pa­tients who were sim­ply ex­posed to sim­u­lated si­lence through wear­ing noise-can­cel­ing head­phones. Those pa­tients also saw an ad­di­tional ben­e­fit, as they ex­pe­ri­enced less pain.

Sub­jects who lis­tened to jazz—which in­cluded cov­ers and orig­i­nals from Chris Botti, Brubeck and Diana Krall— had lower heart rates than the si­lence group after 20 min­utes, while pa­tients who got the silent treat­ment re­ported less pain after only 10 min­utes. Lis­ten­ing to jazz ac­tu­ally led to high­erthan-usual pain for some pa­tients.

Dr. Flower Austin, lead au­thor of the study, was an anes­the­si­ol­ogy res­i­dent at Her­shey Med­i­cal Cen­ter dur­ing the ex­per­i­ment and is now en­rolled in a pain fel­low­ship at UPMC in Pitts­burgh. Austin, who sings and plays the cello, said the use of jazz or si­lence isn’t meant to be a re­place­ment for pain med­i­ca­tion, but rather an ad­di­tional as­pect of mul­ti­modal treat­ment.

Fifty-six pa­tients par­tic­i­pated in the study, split ran­domly into the two sound groups for a 30-minute time­frame. Their heart rate, blood pres­sure, pain and anx­i­ety lev­els were eval­u­ated reg­u­larly and com­pared with base­line lev­els recorded im­me­di­ately after surgery.

“Ge­or­gia on my Mind”and “Star­dust” were the two Dave Brubeck pi­ano num­bers used in the study.

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