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Music For Surgery

Listening to music before, during and after surgery could help ease your recovery. An investigation from the UK shows that the positive effects of music on surgical patients include less pain and anxiety. Researchers from London's Brunel University reviewed data from 73 randomly controlled trials and found that compared to patients who didn't listen to music, those who did had 20 percent less post-surgical pain and a 10 percent reduction in anxiety. The music listening patients also used significantly less pain medication. The researchers reported that post-surgical pain was reduced most when music was played before surgery, a bit less when played during the operation and least when played afterward, but the differences were not judged clinically significant. And incidentally, if you're having plastic surgery, you might consider letting the surgeon choose the tunes. A study from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston found that when plastic surgeons listen to music they prefer, their surgical technique and efficiency when closing incisions is improved.

My take? The findings on reduced pain and anxiety in surgical patients who listen to music don't surprise me at all. Music can have a powerful effect on mind and body. In fact, hospitals have long used music therapy to ease pain, boost patients' moods and counteract depression, as well as help them sleep and reduce muscle tension so that they can relax. Music therapy is also used to stimulate nursing home residents and improve the moods of psychiatric patients and help them to gain more control over their lives. Music can also lessen anxiety, reduce chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and, reportedly, may offer benefits of both movement and speech in patients with Parkinson's disease.

No More Appendectomies?

In some cases, antibiotics alone may be all that’s needed to address an inflamed appendix, a newly published study has shown. Researchers looked at substituting 24 hours of intravenous antibiotics in place of surgery for some children and teens. To qualify for the alternate protocol, the 77 youngsters who took part in the study had to have pain for 48 hours or less, exhibit only moderately elevated white blood counts, and completed a screening CT or ultrasound scans that clearly showed that the appendix hadn’t ruptured and the young patients had no impacted feces. Of the 77 patients who met the criteria, 30 decided to give the antibiotic route a try. Two of them needed surgery within 24 hours because they showed no signs of improvement on the drugs. Another youngster needed surgery later because of “insufficient improvement.” Under the usual protocol, appendicitis patients undergo immediate surgery. After 30 days, the 27 patients who received intensive antibiotics instead of surgery were doing well. The researchers wrote that they will continue to follow their young patients and provide information on the longer-term success rate, safety and cost-effectiveness.

Peter C. Minnici et al “Feasibility of a Nonoperative Management Strategy for Uncomplicated Acute Appendicitis in Children,” Journal of the American College of Surgeons,