Only 15 minutes of relaxing classical, jazz, and piano music before an eye surgery can lead to patients feeling less anxiety and requiring less sedation, a new study has found.

Eye surgery while conscious can be highly stressful for patients. It has long been known that music can reduce anxiety, even minimising the need for sedatives, and making patients feel more at ease.

Dr Gilles Guerrier, of Cochin University Hospital, and colleagues, decided to to evaluate the effect of music on anxiety in outpatients undergoing elective eye surgery under local anaesthesia. The study results were presented at Euroanaesthesia 2016 in London.

The study involved 62 patients randomly assigned to hear relaxing music or no music through headphones for around 15 minutes just before cataract surgery. The surgery also lasted an average 15 minutes, and all patients had the same type of surgery to make the results comparable.

Instrumental Only, Decreasing Tempo

The music played was specifically composed to ease anxiety following strict criteria, including instrumental pieces only using a decreasing tempo and a progressive decrease in the number of instruments playing. Each patient was able to choose from a panel of 16 recorded music styles according to their own preferences, and listened through high quality headphones.

There were various styles available, including jazz, flamenco, Cuban, classical and piano. Music was provided by MUSIC CARE, a Paris-based company that produces music aimed at preventing and managing pain, anxiety and depression.

Due to the use of disinfectant and other liquids during surgery, headphones would have been rapidly damaged if used during the actual procedure, so they were not used while operating. However, there is evidence that music-induced relaxation lasts around 60 minutes after the music has stopped.

Patients then filled out a questionnaire on how anxious they were before and after the music session. Overall postoperative satisfaction was assessed using a standardised questionnaire.

Significant Differences

The researchers found significant differences between the two groups, with anxiety significantly reduced among the music group, who scored score 23 out of 100, compared to the non-music group, who scored 65 out of 100. The music listening patients also received significantly less sedatives during surgery compared with the non-music group (16% vs 32%).

Postoperative satisfaction was significantly higher in the music group (mean score 71 out of 100 versus 55 for the non-music group).

Researchers also looked at the ratio of patients receiving the sedative midazolam during surgery, and found that those who were prescribed music were half as likely to need such drugs. Dr Guerrier commented:

“Music listening may be considered as an inexpensive, non-invasive, non-pharmacological method to reduce anxiety for patients undergoing elective eye surgery under local anaesthesia.

The objective is to provide music to all patients before eye surgery. We intend to assess the procedure in other type of surgeries, including orthopedics where regional anaesthesia is common. Moreover, post-operative pain may be reduced by decreasing pre-operative anxiety, which is another study we intend to perform."

Image: By איתן טלEtan Tal CC BY 3.0

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