Acupuncture analgesia during surgery: A systematic review

University of Exeter, Exeter, England, United Kingdom
Pain (Impact Factor: 5.21). 05/2005; 114(3):511-7. DOI: 10.1016/j.pain.2005.02.011
Source: PubMed


The aim of this systematic review is to assess the effectiveness of acupuncture as an adjunctive analgesic method to standard anaesthetic procedures for surgery and to determine whether acupuncture has any analgesic-sparing effect. Electronic literature searches for randomised clinical trials (RCTs) of acupuncture during surgery were performed in seven electronic databases. No language restrictions were imposed. All included studies were rated according to their methodological quality and validity. As the studies were clinically heterogeneous, no meta-analyses were performed. The evidence was classified according to four levels: strong, moderate, limited, or inconclusive. Nineteen RCTs were identified. Seven of them suggested that acupuncture is efficacious. Of nine high-quality RCTs, two studies had positive outcomes. There was no significant association between study quality and direction of outcome. One of eight high-validity trials reported a positive outcome and there was a significant relationship between validity and direction of outcome. The evidence that acupuncture is more effective than no acupuncture as an adjunct to standard anaesthetic procedures is therefore inconclusive. Strong evidence exists that real acupuncture is not significantly different from placebo acupuncture. For an analgesic-sparing effect of acupuncture, evidence remains inconclusive. In conclusion, this review does not support the use of acupuncture as an adjunct to standard anaesthetic procedures during surgery.

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    • "Thus, assessing the physiological significance of DeQi sensation may be a key to understanding the mechanisms of its action. Interestingly, contradictory results of the therapeutic outcomes of acupuncture have been reported (Lee and Ernst, 2005; Usichenko et al., 2005). Sjölund (2005) provided some insights to explain this phenomenon: " acupuncture is a physical technique for sensory stimulation; hence the stimulation mode including the intensity and frequency of stimulation as well as the duration of and interval between stimulation episodes may profoundly influence its effects. "
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    ABSTRACT: Acupuncture is the most popular component of traditional Chinese medicine in Western countries. However, the mechanisms of its effects remain unclear. The therapeutic effect of acupuncture appears when a sensation of DeQi is achieved. We previously reported that repeated, but not single acupuncture treatment affected leukocyte circulation and blood pressure in healthy young humans. The objective of this study was to quantify DeQi sensation by using visual analog scales (VASs) and, to test whether DeQi induction is an important factor for the therapeutic effects of acupuncture in the same cohort. After either acupuncture or sham-acupuncture (placebo) treatment, a questionnaire containing five individual VASs was given to subjects to evaluate their DeQi sensation, including numbness, pressure, heaviness, warmth, and radiating paraesthesia, respectively. A separate VAS to measure their levels of anxiety during the treatment was also included. Our results showed that acupuncture significantly induced higher VAS values for numbness, pressure, warmth, and radiating paraesthesia, but not for heaviness than the placebo across three treatment sessions. Additionally, acupuncture did not induce higher anxiety levels than the placebo. These data confirm that VAS is an objective and reliable way to quantify DeQi sensation and, indicate that DeQi is unique to verum acupuncture treatment. Furthermore, either acupuncture-induced therapeutic effects or DeQi sensation should not be attributed to the stress-mediated effects. In summary, the induction of DeQi in each treatment session is an important factor for the physiological outcomes of repeated acupuncture treatment, and VASs offer objective, an easy and reliable way to assess it.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2007 · The American Journal of Chinese Medicine
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