Study reveals surgeons work better if they listen to AC/DC during operations

Surgeons in the operating room with AC/DC on the television
(Image credit: Arctic-Images)

A study carried out by researchers at Heidelberg University in Germany has suggested that the speed and accuracy of surgery may be improved if surgeons listen to AC/DC at high volume while operating.

The study, published under the title, "Effect of Genre and amplitude of music during laparoscopic surgery", examined the effect of music in the operating theatre, noting that choosing the right soundtrack to accompany surgical work could improve the performance of novice surgeons.

The comparison was carried out by playing The Beatles and AC/DC during laparoscopic surgery, a procedure during which narrow tubes are inserted into the abdomen, through which narrow instruments are inserted to carry out exploratory or remedial surgery.

"With soft rock in medium volume, participants were faster in peg transfer (60.3 vs. 56.7 s, P = 0.012) and more accurate in suture with intracorporeal knot (79.2 vs. 54.0, P = 0.011) compared to without music," explain the report's authors. "The total score was improved (383.4 vs. 337.9, P = 0.0076) by enhancing accuracy (79.5 vs. 54.0, P = 0.011). This positive effect was lost if the soft rock was played in high volume." 

They continue: "With hard rock in medium volume, participants were faster performing precision cutting (139.4 vs. 235.8, P = 0.0009) compared to without music. Both balloon preparation and precision cutting were performed more rapidly (227.3 vs. 181.4, P = 0.003, 139.4 vs. 114.0, P < 0.0001) and the accuracy was maintained. Hard rock in high volume also resulted in increased speed (366.7 vs. 295.5, P < 0.0001) compared to without music. Thereby, the total scores of participants were enhanced (516.5 vs. 437.1, P = 0.002)."

In plain English, the surgeons who operated with AC/DC playing in the background were faster and more precise, with the time taken to complete certain procedures dropping by 41% while accuracy improved by five percent. The improvement in performance by the surgeons who worked to a Beatles soundtrack was similar, but only when the music was played at low volume.

What does all this mean for the future of medicine? To be frank, we have literally no idea. But we will be requesting some AC/DC next time we go under the knife. Night Of The Long Knives, perhaps. 

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 36 years in music industry, online for 23. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.