THURSDAY, Jan. 12, 2012 (HealthDay News) -- Listening to music on headphones can help reduce the pain and anxiety experienced by a man as he undergoes a prostate biopsy, new research suggests.
The study by researchers at Duke Cancer Institute included 88 prostate biopsy patients randomly assigned to three groups. One group wore noise-cancelling headphones and listened to Bach concertos during the procedure, while the second group wore the headphones but heard no music. The third group had no headphones.
The men in the study underwent a transrectal biopsy, an intrusive procedure that uses an ultrasound probe and a spring-loaded needle with a loud trigger. The noise of the trigger causes many patients to flinch even if they report no pain, and the procedure causes high levels of stress and anxiety in about 20 percent of patients, the researchers said in a Duke Medicine news release.
The men's blood pressure was checked before and after the procedure. Diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) often rises as a result of stress and anxiety. A spike in diastolic blood pressure occurred among both groups of men who didn't listen to music during the procedure, but did not occur among those who listened to music, the investigators found.
Patients who listened to music also reported less pain, according to the study published in the January issue of the journal Urology.
The findings suggest that providing patients with headphones and music may be a simple and low-cost way to help the estimated 700,000 men who have a prostate biopsy each year in the United States, the researchers said.
"It's a matter of shifting attention, so the music provides a distraction from the procedure," lead author Dr. Matvey Tsivian, a urologic oncology fellow at Duke, said in the news release.
The researchers did not examine whether the type of music heard by patients might have an impact on their anxiety and pain levels.
"We couldn't study all the permutations and variables, but it's evident that this kind of approach works," senior author Dr. Thomas Polascik, director of urologic oncology at the Duke Cancer Institute, said in the news release. "This is something that could be broadly employed. It's easy and inexpensive -- a set of headphones and music. That's it."
The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more about medical tests for prostate problems.