Sources: IndyStar – By Shari Rudavsky | Edited By – All Things Michael
When Dr. Gary Dunnington, a breast cancer surgeon at the IU Health Simon Cancer Center, was in medical school years ago, one of his mentors told him to treat the operating room as a sanctuary and never allow music to be played there.
He followed that advice for a while but as he gained seniority, he started turning on the tunes as he worked, like many of his colleagues. Now, he says, he prefers to cut and sew to jazz or blues but bans rap and hard rock.
Listening to music while operating dates back thousands of years, according to a recent article in The BMJ. The Greeks considered Apollo to be the father of healing and music, while Aristotle thought music could staunch fear and help with healing. A century ago a Pennsylvania doctor extolled the benefits for patients and surgeons of installing a phonograph in the operating room.
Control of the dial differs from operating room to operating room. Some surgeons allow patients to choose the music if the procedure takes place with local anesthesia or until the patient is fully anesthetized.
In other places, the playlist may be a delicate negotiation between the many nurses, doctors and others assisting with the operation.
Dr. C. Max Schmidt, the director of the IU Health Pancreatic Cyst and Cancer Early Detection Center, lets the nurses decide what music they want.
“Only catch is, I control the volume,” he said.
IPods help some surgeons manage their playlists for the operating room.(Photo: Doug McSchooler/The Star)
Dr. Jodi Smith, a pediatric neurosurgeon at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health, confess to a soft spot for Christmas music. Most of the year, Smith plays Disney tunes, but once November hits, it’s time for the Christmas songs.
“We listen to Christmas music in my OR beginning the day after Halloween until the first of the year,” Smith said. “Actually I’d listen to it all year long but my OR nurses won’t let me.”
For Dr. Ronald Baughman, a general surgeon at Community Physician Network, it’s genre of music, rather than specific songs, such as Motown, reggae, the ’80s.
But if Bon Jovi’s “Bad Medicine” comes on, it requires an immediate change.
The one thing you won’t find in Baughman’s operating room is silence.
“When there isn’t music playing, the silence is deafening,” he said.
Here are some other local surgeons and their playlist:
Dr. John Powelson, a surgeon at IU Health University Hospital who specializes in kidney transplants, tries to avoid playing any one tune a lot.
Instead, he looks for anything that has a good beat, whether that be a song from the ’60s or something more contemporary.
His go-to singer? Michael Jackson.
“Just about any of his songs has a great beat and everyone likes them,” he said.
The late Michael Jackson, shown during a March 18 1988, concert at Market Square Arena, is the go-to singer to listen to while operating for Dr. John Powelson, a surgeon at IU Health University Hospital who specializes in kidney transplants.(Photo: Mike Fender / 1988 Star file photo)
Tod Huntley, a head and neck surgeon with St. Vincent Health, lets the length of the procedure determine his choice. For example, a complex daylong cancer case calls for music that allows for concentration. For this, he might choose jazz, such as Charlie Parker or Miles Davis, or something by one of his favorite classical composers, Claude Debussy, or music featuring classical guitarist Tommy Emmanuel.
If he’s closing up a case and is more relaxed, he might throw on some ZZ Top, Black Keys or even AC/DC, he confessed.
Still, he rarely dares play what might often be his first choice: opera.
“If I put on what I really want, I know I’m going to get some rebelling in the room,” he said. “That’s something that I never do because so many people say, ‘Oh turn that off.’ ”
Dr. Jonathan Fridell, a transplant surgeon at IU Health University Hospital, tends to prefer the ’80s, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, the Black Eyed Peas and Iggy Azalea.
Favorite background songs for performing pancreas, liver and kidney transplants include Meatloaf’s “Bat Out of Hell” and Britney Spears’ “Circus.” For a while, Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London” was his go-to song for closing.
Dr. Ronald Baughman, a general surgeon at Community Physician Network, prefers to turn to his own iPod for music. Not only does that give him control over what’s played, he doesn’t have to worry about distractions or radio advertising.
He offered a sample of a recent playlist: “Wishing Well” by Airborne Toxic Event; “Windows are Rolled Down” by Amos Lee; “Gold on the Ceiling” by The Black Keys; “Skinny Love” by Bon Iver; “For What It’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield; “Under the Milky Way” by The Church; “Fantastic Voyage” by Coolio; “Grey Street” by Dave Matthews Band; “Tomorrow” by The Cranberries; “Numb” by Linkin Park; “Low Rider” by War; “Bittersweet” by Big Head Todd and the Monsters; “Unbelievers” by Vampire Weekend; “Please Come Home” by Gary Clark Jr.; “Last Kiss” by Pearl Jam and “Bacco Perbacco” by Zucchero.
Dr. Saad Khairi, a neurosurgeon at the Level I Trauma Center at IU Health Methodist Hospital, often pirates his wife’s playlists as musical backdrop for the spine surgeries he performs.
But on one memorable occasion he drew up his own playlist. A few years ago – as rumors swirled about Peyton Manning’s imminent departure from the Colts – Khairi had a few hours until he was to operate on a patient with a broken back.
He created a playlist of almost 100 songs as a personal homage.
“I was a big Peyton fan and the thought of losing him was making me sad,” Khairi said, adding that his list “includes some of the sappiest songs ever and a lot of songs that I just kind of like.”
The list of 99 songs included Bananarama’s “Na Na Hey Hey”; the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back”; Gloria Estefan’s “Don’t Wanna Lose You”; Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days”; and Sting’s “If You Love Somebody, Set Them…”
For several months, this was Khairi’s go-to playlist until his colleagues made it clear they had heard it enough.
“There were cheers galore in Room #1 when we got back to normal hipster alternative pop,” he said. “I still wheel it out occasionally when feeling nostalgic, but this one is pretty much out of the rotation at this point, because I’m a big Luck fan now.”
Dr. Brian Mullis, chief of orthopedic trauma services at Eskenazi Health, said the following seven songs comprise his favorites: “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin; “Devil Went Down to Georgia” by the Charlie Daniels Band; “Enter Sandman” by Metallica ; “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns N’ Roses; “Gimme Some Lovin'” by the Blues Brothers; “Gonna Fly Now” by Bill Conti and “Toxic” by Britney Spears.
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