Music can help reduce anxiety before anesthesia: Study

Washington : Music is a viable alternative to sedative medications in reducing anxiety prior to a peripheral nerve block procedure, claim researchers.

Patients commonly take sedative medications, like midazolam, prior to the procedure to reduce anxiety. In this study, researchers found relaxing music to be similarly effective to the intravenous form of midazolam in reducing a patient’s anxiety prior to the nerve block procedure.

A peripheral nerve block procedure is a type of regional anaesthesia done in the preoperative area under ultrasound guidance that blocks sensations of pain from a specific area of the body. The procedure is routinely performed for a variety of outpatient orthopaedic surgeries, such as hip and knee arthroscopies and elbow or hand surgeries.

“Our findings show that there are drug-free alternatives to help calm a patient before certain procedures, like nerve blocks. We’ve rolled out a new process at our ambulatory surgical center to provide patients who want to listen to music with access to disposable headphones. Ultimately, our goal is to offer music as an alternative to help patients relax during their perioperative period,” said the study’s lead author Veena Graff.

While research has shown music can help reduce a patient’s anxiety prior to surgery, previous studies have primarily focused on music versus an oral form of sedative medications, which are not routinely used in the preoperative setting.

In this study, the first to compare music medicine with an intravenous form of sedative medication researchers aimed to measure the efficacy of music in lowering a patient’s anxiety prior to conducting a peripheral nerve block.

The team randomly assigned 157 adults to receive one of two options three minutes prior to the peripheral nerve block: either an injection of 1-2 mg of midazolam, or a pair of noise-canceling headphones playing Marconi Union’s ‘Weightless’ an eight-minute song, created in collaboration with sound therapists, with carefully arranged harmonies, rhythms, and bass lines designed specifically to calm listeners down. Researchers evaluated levels of anxiety before and after the use of each method and found similar changes in the levels of anxiety in both groups.

However, the team noted that patients who received midazolam reported higher levels of satisfaction with their overall experience and fewer issues with communication. Researchers attributed these findings to a number of factors, including the fact they used noise-cancelling headphones, didn’t standardise the volume of music, and didn’t allow patients to select the music.