Hate Colonoscopies? Music May Make It Better

From a study by Uedo N, Ishikawa H, Morimoto K, Ishihara R, Narahara H, Akedo I, Ioka T, Kaji I, and Fukuda S:

BACKGROUND/AIMS: Premedication for endoscopy promotes patient cooperation and makes subsequent examinations more acceptable. Music therapy is widely used in the treatment of acute and chronic pain. Therefore, we investigated the effects of music therapy on pain and on salivary cortisol levels in patients undergoing screening colonoscopy. METHODOLOGY: The subjects were 29 consecutive patients undergoing colonoscopy for various reasons. Patients were randomly assigned to undergo colonoscopy while listening to music (n=15) or while not listening to music (n=14). Cortisol levels were measured in samples of saliva obtained before and after colonoscopy. After colonoscopy, patients were asked to rate their maximum pain during colonoscopy. RESULTS: Patients who listened to music during colonoscopy tended to have lower pain scores [emphasis added]. Salivary cortisol levels increased significantly less in the group receiving music. CONCLUSIONS: Music therapy during colonoscopy markedly reduces fear-related stress [emphasis added], as indicated by changes in salivary cortisol levels.

Nobody enjoys a colonoscopy, no matter what music you may be listening to. It’s an unpleasant but necessary procedure. However, a judicious choice of music may significantly ease the pain and stress, and perhaps make anesthesia (always a danger) unnecessary. Many types of classical music have been show to reduce pain, lower stress, and promote healing. So the next time you go in for a colonoscopy, consider loading your mp3 player with some slow Baroque music, and your next procedure could be a little easier.

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