Soothing music before surgery helps patients relax and need less sedation, a study found.
Just a quarter of an hour of jazz, classical and piano music before an eye operation was enough to reduce anxiety about the surgery carried out while the patient is awake.
A pilot study by the Paris-based Cochin University Hospital used music specifically composed to ease anxiety and found those who listened to it were more relaxed than others, up to an hour afterwards.
The 16 pieces were selected with the aim to prevent and manage pain, anxiety and depression.
All were instrumental pieces using a decreasing tempo, with a progressive decrease in the number of instruments playing.
The study involved 62 patients who either listened to their choice of music or did not 15 minutes before cataract surgery, which also lasted an average 15 minutes.
The patients then completed a questionnaire on how anxious they were pre and post operatively.
They scored from one to ten how frightened they were about the procedure, the anaesthesia, the pain after the operation, the risk of side effects or a botched operation.
Researchers also compared the proportion of patients receiving the sedative midazolam during surgery, and found that those who were prescribed music were half as likely to need such drugs.
Results showed anxiety was significantly reduced among the music group (score 23 out of 100) compared to the non-music group (score 65 out of 100).
Post-operative satisfaction was significantly higher in the music group (mean score 71 out of 100 versus 55 for the non-music group).
Researcher Dr Gilles Guerrier said: "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 orthopaedics 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."
The study was presented at Euroanaesthesia 2016 in London.
Listen to samples of the selected pieces
Donnelly, Laura. The Telegraph. May 27, 2016. Accessed June 14, 2016. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/05/27/music-before-surgery-means-patients-need-less-sedation-study-fin/.