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Surgeons work better when listening to loud AC/DC

Don’t mind the schoolboy shorts. Dr. Young graduated top of his class.

Don’t mind the schoolboy shorts. Dr. Young graduated top of his class.
Photo: Jeffrey A. Camarati (Getty Images)

Good news for every surgeon who amps themselves up for particularly in-depth operations by singing “If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It)” to themselves: A new study has found that listening to loud AC/DC during operations can improve surgical speed and accuracy.

Researchers at Heidelberg University in Germany decided to look into the common practice of playing music in operating rooms and see if evidence could be found that certain genres actually increase a surgeon’s efficacy. Their findings, published late last month, showed that music does have an effect on performance—and that loud AC/DC works best.

The study was performed by having a group of novice surgeons perform laparoscopic surgery (gut-slicing, for us laypeople) while listening to hard or soft rock at different volumes. As The Sun reports, “doctors were almost 50 per cent quicker stitching up wounds when The Beatles’ hits ‘Hey Jude’ and ‘Let It Be’ were played in the background,” though this improvement “was lost if those tracks were played loud.”

When surgeons listened to AC/DC’s “T.N.T.” and “Highway To Hell,” however, “the time needed to make a precision cut [dropped] from 236 seconds to 139″ and the doctors performed “around five per cent better on tests of accuracy.” Lead research Cui Yang said that this effect “was especially noticeable when [hard rock] music was played in high volume.”

Yang attributes this to the possibility “that music with high rhythmicity could provide a tempo to keep up the speed of the performance and thus enhance task performance.” In other words, hearing loud AC/DC while working makes sure surgeons don’t accidentally touch too much with their instruments, inadvertently make patients shake all night long by nudging the wrong organ, or, worst of all, cause a flatline that causes the worst of them to race off down the highway to hell.

Hopefully, a follow-up study will soon be published that determines once and for all whether doing a fun little duck walk while holding a scalpel further improves surgical performance.

[via Consequence]

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