Research: USICHENKO and colleagues,

Listed in Issue 141

Abstract

USICHENKO and colleagues, Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine, Ernst Moritz Arndt University, Greifswald, Germany, have carried out a randomized controlled trial of ear acupuncture for pain relief after surgery.

Background

Auricular acupuncture is a promising method for postoperative pain relief. However, there is no evidence for its use after day surgery. The aim of this study was to test whether auricular acupuncture is better than invasive needle control for complementary analgesia after ambulatory knee surgery.

Methodology

120 patients undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery under standardized general anaesthesia were randomly assigned to receive auricular acupuncture or a control procedure. Fixed indwelling acupuncture needles were inserted before surgery and retained in situ until the following morning. Postoperative rescue analgesia was directed to achieve pain intensity less than 40 mm on a 100-mm VAS. The primary outcome measure was the postoperative requirement for ibuprofen between surgery and examination the following morning.

Results

Patients from the control group (n = 59) required more ibuprofen than patients from the auricular acupuncture group (n = 61): median 600 v. 200 mg (p = 0.012). Pain intensity was similar in both groups at all time points registered. The majority of patients in both groups believed that they had received true acupuncture and wanted to repeat it in future.

Conclusion

Auricular acupuncture reduced the requirement for analgesic medication after ambulatory knee surgery relative to an invasive needle control procedure.

References

Usichenko TI et al. Auricular acupuncture for pain relief after ambulatory knee surgery: a randomized trial. CMAJ Canadian Medical Association Journal 176 (2): 179-183, Jan 16, 2007.

Comment

The above studies, with negative and positive outcomes, demonstrate the intensity of clinical research about Acupuncture being carried out internationally. These may have important implications regarding the healing effect upon the body of inserting needles.

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