The impact of sound-activated noise meters to decrease the noise level in the operating room is not clear. The aim of this study was to determine whether a sound-activated, visual noise meter would decrease noise levels, decrease postoperative morbidity, and improve surgeons’ feelings of well-being.
This prospective, single-center study proceeded in 2 phases. First, sound levels were compared during a 6-month period with noise measurement only and without a visual feedback function. Second, we conducted a subsequent 6-month phase with noise meters providing direct feedback. Surgeon disturbance during the operation was assessed by a questionnaire after each procedure.
Of the 664 procedures included in this analysis, 447 (67.3%) were in phase 1 and 217 (32.7%) in phase 2. The noise levels in the operating room were decreased by 3.8 dB(A) from 54.6 ± 4.5 dB(A) in phase 1 to 50.8 ± 2.8 dB(A) in phase 2 after intervention with the feedback device (P < .001). During the procedures, there was an increase of 0.7 dB(A) (P < .001), with mean noise levels of 53.5 dB(A) at the beginning of the procedures and 54.2 dB(A) at the end. There was a correlation between the disturbance of the surgeon and the noise level (P < .001).
The application of a visual noise warning device in an operating room decreased both the noise levels and surgeon stress and may offer sustained decreases in ambient and peak sound levels, potentially leading to improved quality outcomes in visceral surgery.

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