Binaural Beats Decrease Pain, Discomfort During Nonsedated Colonoscopy

Doctors performing surgery in operating room
Researchers examined whether listening to binaural beats during a nonsedated colonoscopy would have effects on pain and comfort.

Patients who listened to binaural beats had less pain and increased comfort during a nonsedated colonoscopy compared with patients who only listened to white noise, according to a study published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice.

Investigators conducted a double-blind, randomized controlled trial (ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT04372511), enrolling 115 patients, aged 18 to 80 years, who were set to undergo a colonoscopy. The study took place at a single-center hospital in Italy over the course of a single year. Patients who had a previous bowel resection were excluded. Study participants were randomly assigned to either an experimental or control group. Patients in the experimental group listened to binaural beats in the theta range, which has previously been shown to mirror the effects of meditation, in addition to background white noise during nonsedated colonoscopy. Patients in the control group listened to only background white noise during the procedure.

Outcomes assessed included preprocedural anxiety and intraprocedural pain, both measured using the Visual Analog Scale. Intraprocedural comfort and willingness to repeat the procedure in the future were each measured using a Likert scale.

More patients in the control vs experimental group did not complete the colonoscopy procedure due to intolerance (14 vs 5 patients; P <.05). While preprocedural anxiety was comparable between groups, both intraprocedural pain and discomfort were significantly lower in patients who listened to binaural beats compared with patients in the control group, who listened to white noise alone (VAS pain scale: 5.19±2.68 vs 6.65 ± 2.50; Likert: 4.00 [3.25–4.00] vs 3.00 [3.00–4.00]). Additionally, patients who listened to binaural beats vs patients in the control group were significantly more willing to undergo the procedure again in the future (Likert: 4.00 [3.00–4.00] vs 3.00 [1.00–4.00]).

Study limitations included not using a third group that solely listened to music, although researchers noted that may have affected the double-blind study design. Anxiety levels were also not measured following colonoscopy.

“A decrease in the feeling of pain and an increase in the comfort level were demonstrated,” the study authors wrote. “The results indicate that the [binaural beats] is an effective and safe method with no side effects for reducing pain and improving patient comfort in cases undergoing colonoscopy.”

Reference

Tani A, Tartarisco G, Vagheggini G, Vaccaro C, Campana S, Tomaiuolo F. Binaural beats reduce feeling of pain and discomfort during colonoscopy procedure in not-sedated patients: a randomized control trial. Complement Ther Clin Pract. Published online May 21, 2022. doi:10.1016/j.ctcp.2022.101605