Listening to Music Before Surgery Could Help Patients Calm Down


For some local anesthesia procedures, listening to a song allows patients to relax as if they had taken medication.


Eight minutes of music as powerful as a sedative?

This is the conclusion of a study conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania. Published in Regional Anesthesia & Pain Medicine, the research compares the effects of a song and a drug, such as midazolam, on patients’ anxiety before anesthesia.

Nerve Block Anesthesia

157 adults participated in the study: some of them received a dose of 1 to 2 mg of midazolam and the other listened to Marconi Union’s “Weightless” for 3 minutes. This piece of music was designed with sound therapists to develop arrangements aimed at calming the listener. The researchers analyzed the patients’ anxiety before and after each procedure. All participants were then anaesthetized with a nerve block which controls pain by injecting an anesthetic close to the nerves.

Reduction of anxiety levels in both cases

Both methods had similar results: they both helped calm the patients before anesthesia. However, scientists noted that the group that took the sedative reported a more positive experience than the others and had fewer communication problems. The researchers have several hypotheses about this. The use of noise canceling headphones may have interfered with communication with medical teams. Also since patients could not choose the music, it may also have decreased theirsatisfaction.

Music: a solution without side effects

Midazolam may affect breathing or increase agitation in some patients. Unlike a sedative, a song has no side effects. The health benefits of music are said to be numerous: a previous study showed that two out of three people listen to it to help them sleep.


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