The Key to More Efficient Surgery Might Be… Heavy Metal Music?!


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Rachel Kraus

Steady hands are a must for surgeons in the operating room. But how about head banging?

A 2022 study published in Langenbeck’s Archive of Surgery found that playing rock music—specifically, the dulcet tones of heavy metal band AC/DC of Highway to Hell fame—was associated with surgeons performing better at precision cutting in comparison to no music.

The study was small, examining the performance of 30 medical students undertaking laparoscopic surgery, so take the results with a grain of salt. But it did find that performing surgical procedures while listening to AC/DC at medium and high volumes increased speed while maintaining accuracy in comparison to no music. Listening to soft rock (they played the The Beatles) at a medium volume was also associated with some benefits, but the speed and accuracy results of listening to AC/DC at a high volume were most dramatic. Color me thunderstruck!

To put these learnings into action, NextMed Health, in partnership with Klick Health, has created an AI-powered radio station called Lifesaving Radio. It will feature music similar to AC/DC to help spur on surgeons, and will even incorporate the music of a new tribute album called not Highway to Hell, but Highway to Heal, which reimagines AC/DC songs with healthcare lyrics.

Apparently, some surgeons are goofballs, and are into this.

“We know music helps improve athletic performance and, for an OR team, surgery is like a well-tuned chamber orchestra communicating with movements and gestures, not necessarily words,” orthopedic sports medicine surgeon Vonda Wright, MD, FAOA, said in a press release about the project. “Lifesaving Radio is a brilliant surgical tool that our teams can use to help improve concentration, minimize stress, and maintain flow state.”

If medical teams register their procedures, they could even get shoutouts from the AI DJ on air.

Especially in the wake of the pandemic, healthcare workers are some of the most stressed and burned out professionals around. While this project may seem silly, if it can bring some joy to surgeons, and potentially better results for patients, we’re all for turning that dial to Lifesaving Radio.

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