Music to Operate By

Home » Doctor Article » Music to Operate By

Area surgeons split on issue of tunes in operating room

“The first cut is the deepest. …”

Or how about Janis Joplin belting “Reach out, take another little piece of my heart. . . “?

Call it music for surgery.

An informal survey of surgeons at the Regional Medical Center and Shands at the U. of F. shows they’re split on the issue of tunes in the operating room.

Dr. Bruce Mast of Accent Physician Specialists does plastic and reconstructive surgery, and he doesn’t go into the OR without an armload of compact discs.

Classic rock to New Age rock, jazz and classical, even a sampling of country-western and a touch of classical are among his CD collection.

“We usually start off with what I like to hear, and then I try to fit in something for everybody else on the team,” Mast said.

The Boss is at the top of Mast’s frequent-play list: Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” and “Greetings from Asbury Park.”

“Classics! I love those two!”

If he’s concentrating on a delicate procedure, Mast said he will cue up some classical music.

He said he has to have Sister Hazel in his collection.

What’s on the playlist?

Here are some of the CDs Dr. Bruce Mast takes with him into the operating room.

  • Bruce Springsteen holds the top two spots.
  • These get cued up often: Steely Dan, Dire Straits, B-52s, Talking Heads, the Eagles, Hootie and the Blowfish, The Beatles, Elvis Costello and The Who
  • Not to be forgotten: Paul Simon’s “Grace- land,” Jimmy Buffett and some reggae albums
  • Jazz favorites: Louis Armstrong, Stanley Jordan and Dave Koz

    Pediatric surgeon Mike Chen is more likely to cue these up:

  • The “old” Springsteen
  • Buena Vista Social Club
  • Kasey Chambers
  • Dave Alvin

“We even have some classic Frank Sinatra,” he added, “but most of the time in my room, we listen to classic rock ‘n’ roll.”

At the Regional Medical Center, the 14 new operating rooms that recently opened are each equipped with a six-CD stereo system, so that the surgeons can line up their favorites in the order they want them played.

Over at Shands at the U. of F., pediatric surgeon Mike Chen prefers mellow rock in his OR – Dave Alvin, Kasey Chambers, perhaps the Buena Vista Social Club. And Springsteen – the “old” Bruce is his first choice.

“I don’t change what I play, but I will lower the volume, depending on how critical the case is,” Chen said.

Hearing soothing music, even subconsciously while under anesthesia, can actually ease a patient’s recovery, according to one Swedish study. The patients in the study were less fatigued and needed less pain medication after their surgeries.

The research suggests that the brain may be more aware of what happens during surgery than had previously been believed.

Dr. Max Langham, chief of pediatric surgery at Shands at the U.of F., cites another article just published in the journal Surgery.

“This study looked at noise levels in the OR and concluded that the increased sound from music playing did not negatively affect surgical performance,” Langham said.

Still, he rarely lets the music play on while he is performing surgery.

“I’m one of those guys who likes a reasonably quiet OR,” Langham said. “I wo