Brian Wise covers the classical music business for WQXR, including aspects of performance, technology, philanthropy and institutional trends. He manages the station's homepage and makes sure what you hear on air is what you see online. Follow him on Twitter at @Briancwise.
Mozart May Improve Detection During Colonoscopies
Tuesday, November 01, 2011 - 12:00 AM
If you're headed for colon surgery, take your iPod.
Doctors who listen to Mozart while performing colonoscopy may increase their detection rates of precancerous polyps, a small study has found.
The study included only two doctors, but for one, listening to Mozart more than tripled the polyp detection rate from 21.25 percent to 66.7 percent, researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston reported today at the American College of Gastroenterology’s annual meeting.
Adenomas are a type of colon polyp that is considered a precursor for invasive colorectal cancer (CRC), the third most common cancer diagnosed in men and women in the United States.
"Anything we can do get those rates up has the potential to save lives,” said Dr. Catherine Noelle O'Shea, of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. “While this is a small study, the results highlight how thinking outside the box--in this case using Mozart--to improve adenoma detection rates can potentially prove valuable to physicians and patients."
The polyp detection rate for the other doctor studies rose from 27.16 percent to 36.7 percent.
The study’s authors said that the results add credence to the “Mozart effect,” the longstanding – yet controversial – belief that Mozart can provide a significant short-term enhancement of mental tasks known as “spatial-temporal reasoning.” Some experts attribute the performance boost to a more positive mood or increased alertness.
The study, which took place between October 2010 and April 2011, involved 161 colonoscopies, and the results were reviewed for all polyps removed during these screening colonoscopies.
This is the latest in a growing body of studies on the use of music in surgery situations. Researchers at San Francisco General Hospital recently published a study that found patients on mechanical ventilation required lower doses of sedatives when they listened to classical music, according to an Anesthesiology News report.
For many years doctors have openly used background music to help them remain relaxed and focused during surgical procedures. In one 2006 survey of 171 doctors and nurses, 63 percent regularly listened to music in the operating room with 58 percent selecting classical music.
On the other hand, one well-respected trial exposing junior surgeons to music while learning minimally invasive surgery techniques concluded that music had a distracting effect on novice surgeons and should be prohibited.