Research: KARST and colleages,

Listed in Issue 145


KARST and colleages, Department of Anesthesiology, Pain Clinic, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany,, have conducted a randomized controlled trial of ear acupuncture for anxiety at the dentist.


Auricular acupuncture can be an effective treatment for acute anxiety, but there is a lack of direct comparisons of acupuncture to proven standard drug treatments. The aim of this study was to compare the efficacy of auricular acupuncture with a tranquiliser, placebo acupuncture, and no treatment for reducing dental anxiety.


67 patients having dental extractions were randomized to (i) auricular acupuncture, (ii) placebo acupuncture, and (iii) intranasal midazolam and compared with a no treatment group. Anxiety was assessed by Spielberger Stait-Trait Anxiety Inventory X1before the interventions, at 30 min, and after the dental extraction. Physiological variables were assessed continuously.


With the no treatment group as control, both the auricular acupuncture group and the midazolam group were significantly less anxious at 30 min than patients in the placebo acupuncture group (p = 0.012 and <0.001, respectively). In addition, patient compliance assessed by the dentist was significantly improved if auricular acupuncture or application of intranasal midazolam had been performed (p = 0.032 and 0.049, respectively).


Auricular acupuncture and intranasal midazolam were similarly effective for the treatment of dental anxiety. Given that midazolam is a major tranquiliser, acupuncture would seem preferable.


Karst M, Winterhalter M, Munte S, Francki B, Hondronikos A, Eckardt A, Hoy L, Buhck H, Bernateck M, Fink M. Auricular acupuncture for dental anxiety: a randomized controlled trial. Anesthesia & Analgesia 104 (2): 295-300, Feb 2007.

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