If you're headed for surgery, take your iPod.
A new study by the Yale School of Medicine confirms previous work showing that surgery patients listening to music require much less sedation.
Previous studies left open the question of whether it was music that did the trick, or just the act of blocking out the sound of dropped surgical instruments and other operating room noise.
In the new study, researchers tested 90 surgery patients at two facilities. Some wore headphones and listened to the music of their choice. Others heard white noise, that hiss and hum common to office buildings that's designed to drown out harsh noises. Others had no headphones.
Blocking sounds with white noise did not decrease sedative requirements, the study found, music did.
"Doctors and patients should both note that music can be used to supplement sedation in the operating room," said study team member Zeev Kain, a Yale professor in the Department of Anesthesiology.
The results are detailed in the May issue of the journal Anesthesia & Analgesia.
Music is turning out to be quite an elixir.
A 1999 study found that music after abdominal surgery can reduce patients' post-operative pain. Other studies have shown that music before and during surgery reduces blood pressure and nervousness.
Surgeons also perform better while listening to music, studies have shown, and many operating rooms are equipped with sound systems and music playlists handpicked by the doctors.