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Published On September 22, 2006

CLINICAL CARE

Music in the OR

Surgeons report on which songs help them get pumped in the operating room.

In many operating rooms, the iPod is as vital a tool as a scalpel. A 1994 Journal of the American Medical Association study reported that surgeons performed better when they listened to music they had chosen. As these surgeons note, music can serve very particular purposes.

TO GET PUMPED: “At the beginning of a total shoulder replacement, the Rolling Stones’ ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ gets your adrenaline going. It feels like game time.” 

—Dan Reilly, hand and shoulder surgeon, Hand Surgery Specialists Inc., Cincinnati

TO SUSTAIN MORALE: “When things are going badly during a liver transplant, I put on Mike and the Mechanics’ ‘All I Need Is a Miracle.’” 

—C. Wright Pinson, chief medical officer and professor of surgery, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville

TO KEEP UP A RHYTHM: “My cases require a lot of suturing, which is repetitive work. I listen to Motown because it’s basically the same kind of music over and over. It calms me down and helps me concentrate.” 

—Jennifer Butterfield, plastic surgeon, Women’s Plastic Surgery and Rejuvenation Center, Cincinnati

TO UNWIND: “ I like to play Frank Sinatra during the middle of the operation. When you’re closing up a patient, it’s rock and roll time: Van Halen, Guns N’ Roses and occasionally Metallica. Friday afternoons, by law, you have to listen to Barry White.” 

—S. Russell Vester, chairman and heart surgeon, Cardiac, Vascular and Thoracic Surgeons, Cincinnati

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