Patients who have surgery and listen to calming conversations and music while under anesthesia may wake up in less pain and need less pain medication.
German researchers randomly assigned 385 surgery patients to one of two groups. The first wore headphones during their surgery and listened to an audio tape that contained soothing background music and positive suggestions about the safety and success of the procedure. The second group wore headphones with a blank tape. The anesthetist put the headphones on the patients after they fell asleep and removed them before they woke up. Neither the patients nor the surgeons knew who got the empty tapes. The study is in BMJ.
Of those who listened to music and talked, 70 did not use any opiates at all, compared with 39 in the control group. 50 patients in the hearing band group used non-opioid pain relievers compared to 75 of the controls. And the average pain scores two hours after surgery for those who heard calming words and music were 25 percent lower than those who didn't.
The lead author, Dr. Ernil Hansen, professor of anesthesiology at the University of Regensburg, calculated that no opiates at all would be required for six patients who use headphones after an operation.
"It's not just the drugs and the surgery," he said. "We're talking about the valuable part that the patient takes on in his own healing."