Health

What's on your surgeon's playlist?

Cedar Rapids doctors weigh in on music in the operating room

Headphones are seen in front of a logo of online music streaming service Spotify in this  February 18, 2014 illustration picture. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann/File Photo
Headphones are seen in front of a logo of online music streaming service Spotify in this February 18, 2014 illustration picture. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann/File Photo

As Ted Nugent said, “it’s just what the doctor ordered.”

Since patients who find themselves in an operating room are anesthetized and don’t remember the experience, some might not be aware of a common practice in operating rooms.

According to a joint study between Spotify, the music streaming service, and Figure 1, an app for health care professionals, more than 90 percent of surgeons who responded to the survey play music in the operating room.

However, not every specialist turns up the tunes, including Dr. Jeannette Liu, a St. Luke’s neurosurgeon in Cedar Rapids who said she never participates in the practice.

“My mind has a million pieces of information being processed at any given time, and I cannot concentrate when there is anything going on in the background,” Liu said. “Having conversations during surgery is not a problem and in fact, I learn a lot from others when I operate.”

But those who do listen say music helps drown out distractions, allowing the mind to focus on the task at hand.

“Music helps me stay focused in the operating room,” said Dr. Kerri Nowell, a general surgeon at the Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa. “It sounds odd, but it is more distracting to me when it is too quiet.”

Wonder what your surgeon listens to in the operating room? Here’s a selection of some Cedar Rapids specialists’ favorites: (Responses were edited for length or clarity.)

Dr. Cam Campbell, Mercy cardiologist: “I listen to an eclectic mix of music while doing some work including jazz, reggae, and lately more Latin music. Jazz is for quiet contemplation work and Latin music if I need to get pumped up. I enjoy these Latin songs: “Zumba” by Don Omar, “Limbo” by Daddy Yankee, “Vivir Mi Vida” by Marc Anthony and “Sauvemente” by Elvis Crespo.

Dr. Shane Gailushas, Mercy otolaryngologist: “I do listen to music in the operating room, and we do in clinic. But I do not have a playlist myself, because I let the nurses pick what it is that they like instead. They seem to be particular to classic rock or R&B.”

Dr. Ryan Hollenbeck, Mercy cardiologist: “I listen to the radio. Usually we flip between 107.9 and 107.1 depending on the mood of my team that day. Favorites include Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rage Against the Machine, Chainsmokers. Probably not a lot of other cardiologists listening to the Chainsmokers ...”

Dr. Jared Kray, PCI vascular surgeon: “I prefer hard rock or metal on in the operating room, but often compromise with the staff to ‘90s alternative or ‘90s mix. Mainly I like music to drown out the operating room noises that drive me nuts while I’m working, such as the suction machines, anesthesia monitors and so forth, so that I can focus on operating.”

Dr. C.C. Lee, Mercy cardiothoracic and vascular surgeon: “I do listen to music. I like to listen to soft rock — 70s and 80s. My favorite song is Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World.” I find that music relaxes the whole surgical team.”

Dr. James Levett, PCI cardiothoracic surgeon: “I play the ‘70s channel or Blend channel on XM radio. I prefer Fleetwood Mac or the Rolling Stones. An upbeat tempo is good listening and helps the case move along.”

Dr. Steven Mindrup, PCI urology surgeon: “I prefer ‘90s hip-hop like Tupac and Notorious BIG and Snoop, because that’s what we listened to all through college. Formative years I guess. It’s still my favorite 20 years later.”

Dr. Kerri Nowell, PCI general surgeon: “I always listen to the Pulse or the Blend, Sirius channels 15 or 16. Everyone in the operating room already knows this and usually has it on before I even come in. I enjoy the current hits that they play, but it usually avoids too much twangy country or heavy metal.”

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Dr. Vincent Reid, Mercy surgical oncologist: “My favorite group is Earth, Wind and Fire — the mighty elements of the universe. Music is calming and provides a certain necessary background distraction.”

Dr. Matthew Smith, Mercy urologist: “I listen to Pandora Radio — ‘80s rock.”

l Comments: (319) 368-8536; michaela.ramm@thegazette.com

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