Mozart May Improve Detection During Colonoscopies

Tuesday, November 01, 2011 - 12:00 AM

doctors prepping for surgery doctors prepping for surgery (interplast/flickr)

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.

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Comments [7]

Barry Owen Furrer

To Ms. Nardone and Mr. Meltzer:
I'll have to turn the other cheek to the broad scope of your comments - the END.

Jan. 22 2012 07:12 PM
concetta nardone from Elmont, NY

Forgive me but I could not resist this one. Was music from The Magic Flute used.
WQXR opened this door. I wonder what other comments are out there. Again, please forgive me.

Nov. 07 2011 07:07 AM
concetta nardone from Elmont, NY

Dear Mr. Meltzer:
I knew this story would open some very funny doors. Will not comment any further.When I first read it, I said "Oh No."
Best wishes

Nov. 05 2011 04:23 PM
Michael Meltzer

Ms. Nardone: Music can brighten places where the sun never shines.

Nov. 04 2011 03:34 PM
concetta nardone from Elmont, NY

You have no idea what kind of comments this article will lead to. I will not comment but can only imagine people who are a little bit saltier than I am and what they will come up with. As an example, watched Robert Klein on tv last evening and he remarked about television cameras being -----------. You get the rest of the joke.

Nov. 03 2011 01:23 PM
David from Flushing

When I worked in a hospital laboratory, music in any form was strictly forbidden is it is a distraction. A physician doing a colon exam needs to be attentive to the anesthesiologist and other medical personel and not humming along with Mozart.

I am sure a patient would appreciate a doctor breaking into a chorus of "Lacrimosa."

Nov. 02 2011 07:04 PM
S. Danziger from Brooklyn

When I was a medical intern, I was in the operating room on Christmas Eve, while a patient was having a pacemaker placed.

This was some years ago when the procedure could be much more tedious and difficult than it is now.

I had tuned the operating room's radio to a station that was playing Handel's Messiah. It was probably the long-lamented WNCN (not WQXR).

When the device finally was in proper position in the patient, and I am not fabricating or embellishing this story, the "Hallelujah" chorus began, as if on cue.

So, there is real reason to believe that music can have profound effects in unusual settings.

Nov. 01 2011 12:55 PM

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