According to experts, music should be available to everyone having an operation as it improves the recovery after surgery

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According to experts, music should be available to everyone having an operation as it improves the recovery after surgery

According to one of the comprehensive review of evidence so far, involving almost 7000 patients, published in The Lancet, listening to music proves valuable to the patient before, during or after surgery. Also, patients’ pain, anxiety and need for medication can be significantly reduced.

A systematic review and meta-analysis of all published randomized trials, evaluating the impact of music compared to typical care or non pharmacological approaches like massage and relaxation on postoperative recovery in patients undergoing any surgery was conducted by a team of UK researchers, Brunel University & Queen Mary University of London.

Data from 72 trials involving approximately 7000 patients was analyzed which reported less anxiousness in patients after surgery. Standardized mean difference (SMD) from the start of the study was -0.68 and after listening to music, there was significantly more satisfaction (Standardized mean difference {SMD 1.09}), less pain medication (SMD -0.37) and significantly less pain (SMD -0.77) as compared with controls. At all times, listening to the music was effective. However, better results were seen in patients listening to music before surgery. The patients with their own choice of music showed better but non-significant pain reduction.

Amazingly, patients’ pain after listening to the music was also reduced under general anesthetic conditions while better results were seen, when patients were alert. However, there was no impact on the length of the stay in hospital.

Dr Catherine Meads, lead author, Brunel University believes that "More than 51 million operations are performed every year in the USA and around 4.6 million in England. Music should be available to everyone undergoing surgery as it is very cheap, safe and non invasive approach. Also to maximize the benefit for patients, they should be allowed to choose the type of music they would like to hear but care should be taken that music does not interfere with the medical team's communication.

According to Dr Paul Glasziou, Bond University, Queensland, Australia, "Music is a simple and cheap treatment, which reduces transient discomforts for many patients undergoing surgery. A drug with similar effects might generate substantial marketing. The very high heterogeneity of effects among trials in the accompanying study highlights a research opportunity--to identify how to maximize the effect."

The Lancet
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