Listening to music not only soothes the savage beast, it can also aid recovery following surgery, a new meta-analysis finds.

The simple act of engaging in listening to music not only aids recovery following a procedure but also serves to lower anxiety in patients. Researchers examined 72 studies involving a total of more than 7,000 patients. 

Music was found to provide benefits for patients before, during and after surgery. Patients who listened to music while undergoing a procedure were found to experience less severe problems and require fewer pain medications than those who did not listen to music. 

"More than 51 million operations are performed every year in the U.S. ... Music is a non-invasive, safe, cheap intervention that should be available to everyone undergoing surgery. Patients should be allowed to choose the type of music they would like to hear to maximize the benefit to their well-being," Catherine Meads from Brunel University, located in the United Kingdom, said

Remarkably, listening to music while surgery was being performed even provided relief if the patient was unconscious. Results were better for those who were awake during the procedure. 

Listening to music was found to be most effective before an operation occurs, researchers discovered. Patients who were allowed to select their own music required lower doses of drugs and saw faster recoveries than other subjects in the study. 

Investigators stressed in their study that patients recovering from surgery should be allowed to listen to the music of their choice, as long as the act does not interfere with the ability of the medical team to communicate. 

The idea that music assists in healing was first suggested in the modern age in 1914, in the days of Florence Nightingale.

This modern meta-analysis merged the findings of these 73 independent investigations into the effect of music on healing. 

"As the studies themselves were small, they really didn't find all that much. But once we put them all together, we had much more power to find whether music worked or not," Meads said

Pain reporting is an inexact science, and health professionals often ask patients to report levels of pain on a basis from one to 10. Investigators in the study report music reduced reports of pain by two points on that scale. This is about the same amount of relief provided by a typical dose of pain relievers, researchers stated. 

Analysis of the benefits of music for patients undergoing surgery was detailed in the journal The Lancet.

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