Music calms patients before surgery as effectively as medication

Music calms patients before surgery as effectively as medication

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Music before surgery instead of medication?

Medications are not always needed to calm people down before operations and to relieve them of their fears. Researchers have now found that when people listen to relaxing music before their surgery, it is just as effective as taking medication to calm the nerves.

The University of Pennsylvania study found that listening to relaxed music was just as effective as taking medication to calm the nerves before surgery. The results of the study were published in the English-language journal "BMJ".

Soothing music

The song used in the study is said to reduce patient anxiety, blood pressure and heart rate. In the current study with 157 participants, it was used as a kind of sedative. However, patients stated that they preferred to choose music according to their own taste. According to the doctors, the noise canceling headphones used also made communication during treatment difficult.

Patients were given medication or listened to music

In the future, the researchers plan to investigate whether the type of music and the playing influence the results. In the study, patients were either given a medicine called midazolam or they were given the Weightless song by the British band Marconi Union for three minutes while receiving a drug that numbed a specific area of ​​the body.

Fear of surgery can affect recovery

It turned out that the patient's fear was reduced equally in both groups. Fear of surgery can have a negative impact on recovery, since stress hormones are formed in the body of those affected. Medicines that relieve anxiety can lead to side effects and require constant monitoring by specialist staff, the researchers report. The use of music to reduce anxiety, on the other hand, is practical, harmless and inexpensive at the same time.

How does music affect the brain?

Music influences the emotional area of ​​the brain, the reward system and areas related to pleasure. Music can help patients feel good and don't need medication to reduce anxiety.

The use of music in medicine

Music has been an invaluable tool in medicine for many years. For example, music has been used to monitor brain function in patients during brain surgery. So-called music therapy has helped children with autism to deal better with their illness and music can also create memories in us and thereby improve the lives of people with dementia. Music stimulates the mind and body in a variety of ways, soothes and can even heal - so far, however, we still don't really understand how this happens. (as)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Veena Graff, Lu Cai, Ignacio Badiola, Nabil M Elkassabany: Music versus midazolam during preoperative nerve block placements: a prospective randomized controlled study, in BMJ (query: 19.07.2019), BMJ

Video: Surgery Preparation Meditation and Guided Relaxation (August 2022).