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Why Music Matters
4:02 pm
Sun August 19, 2012

Dark Side Of The Operating Room

Originally published on Sun August 19, 2012 5:20 pm

Weekends on All Things Considered continues its "Why Music Matters" series with a story from the operating room.

"The O.R. is a naturally rhythmic place, in that you have the beating of the anesthesia machines and the autoclave comes on," says Divya Singh, an orthopedic and hand surgeon. "So music just becomes another sound."

When Singh was a junior resident, she was assigned to a three-hour hip case where everyone wears what looks like a space suit. To "close" the surgery, someone requested music, and Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon was queued up on the iPod.

"Everyone just got quiet, and we were all busy just doing whatever role we had in that O.R.," Singh says. "That was the first time it appeared [to] me that music could provide the atmosphere in the O.R. It's almost like a dance."

"Why Music Matters" is produced by Anna Boiko-Weyrauch with support from the National Endowment for the Arts, in collaboration with the Association of Independents in Radio and KEXP-FM in Seattle.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

CHERYL CORLEY, HOST:

Now, another installment in our series called Why Music Matters. Every now and then, we bring you the stories of music fans and their own words about how songs or bands have changed their lives. Today's story features the music of the operating room.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEEPING)

DIVYA SINGH: The O.R. is a naturally rhythmic place in that you have the beating of the anesthesia machines and the autoclave comes on. The music just becomes another sound. That's one of the first things I set up in the morning. I get my dock out, I get the iPod in there, and then it's just playing all day.

I'm Divya Singh. I'm a orthopedic and hand surgeon. I remember when I was a junior resident one time. We were doing a big hip case. You wear - they kind of - there's - we call them space suits. It's like big helmets, and you got this big mask, and you've got your own little air conditioning, like, fan in your pants, basically, to keep you cool. And it's this huge - it looks like a space suit. And we were closing up and someone said, oh, put on some closing music.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BREATHE")

SINGH: And it's a big case. It takes you, you know, three, four hours to do. So someone put on "Dark Side of the Moon."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BREATHE")

SINGH: You take out the arthritic hip, and you put in the implants for the new hip. But then, you have to close all those layers that you went through.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BREATHE")

SINGH: You have the joint capsule, and then you have the muscles around the hip.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BREATHE")

SINGH: And then you have the layer of, sort of, fat that's above the muscles, and then you've got- you've got your another layer.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BREATHE")

SINGH: And then finally, you close the skin.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BREATHE")

PINK FLOYD: (Singing) Please breathe in the air. Don't be afraid to care.

SINGH: Everyone just kind of got quiet, and we were all just busy doing whatever role we had in that O.R. And that was the first time it occurred to me that, like, music could provide the atmosphere in the O.R. It's almost like a dance.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BRAIN DAMAGE")

FLOYD: (Singing) You raise the blade. You make the change.

SINGH: You can have a million things going on the rest of your life. But when you're in the O.R., then the most important thing is that surgery that you're doing, that patient that you're taking care of.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BRAIN DAMAGE")

FLOYD: (Singing) You lock the door and throw away the key.

SINGH: And the music quiets everything away, clears out all the other stuff in your head and just so that you can focus on whatever it is that you're trying to put back together.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BRAIN DAMAGE")

FLOYD: (Singing) I'll see you on the dark side of the moon.

CORLEY: That's Divya Singh with Why Music Matters. Our series is produced by Anna Boiko-Weyrauch.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BRAIN DAMAGE")

CORLEY: This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.