- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 4, 2005

CHICAGO - General anesthesia or local? Hip-hop or Sinatra? These are among the decisions facing Dr. Frank Gentile in his double-duty job as anesthesiologist and self-styled DJ of the OR.

The eclectic range of compact discs he loads onto the anesthesia cart headed for the operating room would impress any disc jockey.

“I choose my music strategically. I know my surgeons’ tastes,” says Dr. Gentile, the anesthesiology chairman at Edward Hospital in Naperville.

There’s Eminem and 50 Cent for one surgeon who likes rap. For another doctor, it’s Metallica. Others prefer oldies or opera.

Dr. Gentile picks different types of music for different stages of surgery. Many surgeons prefer up-tempo beats for the final stage, and one doctor with whom Dr. Gentile works “always closes to J-Lo.”

Many U.S. operating rooms have sound systems, so playing music during surgery has become commonplace. Some doctors say it relieves the tension; studies have shown it also can benefit patients, even reducing the need for anesthesia during surgery.

In many hospitals, the task of selecting OR music often falls to the anesthesiologist, and it’s one many take seriously.

Dr. Doug Reinhart, an anesthesiologist in Ogden, Utah, surveyed 301 American Society of Anesthesiology members and found that providing operating music was among nonmedical tasks many performed. Anesthesiologists in private practice and those younger than 50 were most likely to serve as the operating-room DJs.

Dr. Gentile says the DJ task falls naturally to anesthesiologists, given their role. Although their medical duties continue after a patient is asleep — including monitoring vital signs and administering intravenous fluids — anesthesiologists are less tethered to the operating table than surgeons and other OR staff. They often are more free to walk around during surgery or to change a CD.

Music makes surgeons work more efficiently, Dr. Gentile says. “If they’re working faster and they’re happy, the flow of the operating room is happier.”

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