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Acupuncture in ambulatory anesthesia: a review

Authors Norheim AJ, Liodden I, Alræk T

Received 4 May 2015

Accepted for publication 10 June 2015

Published 7 September 2015 Volume 2015:2 Pages 79—90

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/AA.S63821

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Gildasio S De Oliveira Jr.

Arne Johan Norheim,1 Ingrid Liodden,1 Terje Alræk1,2

1National Research Center in Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NAFKAM), Department of Community Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Tromsø – The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, 2The Norwegian School of Health Sciences, Institute of Acupuncture, Kristiania University College, Oslo, Norway

Background: Post-anesthetic morbidities remain challenging in our daily practice of anesthesia. Meta-analyses and reviews of acupuncture and related techniques for postoperative nausea and vomiting (POVN) and postoperative vomiting (POV) show promising results while many clinicians remain skeptical of the value of acupuncture. Given the interest in finding safe non-pharmacological approaches toward postoperative care, this body of knowledge needs to be considered. This review critically appraises and summarizes the research on acupuncture and acupressure in ambulatory anesthesia during the last 15 years.
Methods: Articles were identified through searches of Medline, PubMed, and Embase using the search terms “acupuncture” or “acupuncture therapy” in combination with “ambulatory anesthesia” or “ambulatory surgery” or “day surgery” or “postoperative”. A corresponding search was done using “acupressure” and “wristbands”. The searches generated a total of 104, 118, and 122 references, respectively.
Results: Sixteen studies were included; eight studies reported on acupuncture and eight on acupressure. Nine studies found acupuncture or acupressure effective on primary endpoints including postoperative nausea and vomiting, postoperative pain, sore throat, and emergence agitation. Four studies found acupuncture had a similar effect to antiemetic medication.
Conclusion: Overall, the studies were of fairly good quality. A large proportion of the reviewed papers highlights an effect of acupuncture or acupressure on postoperative morbidities in an ambulatory setting. However, one should bear in mind that research on acupuncture/acupressure in an ambulatory setting contributes to ambiguous conclusions. Hence, we have addressed some of the issues related to this diversity in acupuncture research.

Keywords: acupressure, anesthesia, postoperative, nausea, pain, complementary and alternative medicine

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