In a recent study at Duke University Medical Center, researchers found that patients undergoing acupuncture treatment reported decreased postoperative pain without the harmful side effects of other medications.
n the first such clinical trial of its kind, researchers at Duke University Medical Center have found that acupuncture is more effective at reducing nausea and vomiting after major breast surgery than the leading medication.
The researchers also found that patients who underwent the 5,000-year-old Chinese practice reported decreased postoperative pain and increased satisfaction with their postoperative recovery.
Treating postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV) is an important medical issue.
About 70 per cent of women who undergo major breast surgery requiring general anesthesia suffer from this complication, according to Duke anesthesiologist Dr. Tong Joo Gan, who led the trial.
"The patients in our randomized trial who received acupuncture enjoyed a more comfortable recovery from their surgery than those who received an antisickness medication," Gan said.
In the trial, Gan employed an electro-acupuncture device in which an electrode -- like that used in standard electrocardiogram tests -- is attached at the appropriate point.
The researchers enrolled 75 women who were to undergo major breast surgery (breast augmentation, breast reduction or mastectomy) requiring the use of general anesthesia.
They were then randomized into three groups: one which received acupuncture, one which received the medication ondansetron (trade name Zofran), and a group that received neither.
Two hours after surgery, 77 percent of the patients receiving acupuncture experienced no PONV, nor did they require an antiemetic drug to reduce nausea and vomiting, compared to 64 percent for those who received ondansetron and 42 percent who received nothing.
"While healthiness is a state where the chi is in balance, unhealthiness arises from either too much or too little chi, or a blockage in the flow of the chi.
Interestingly, Gan said, low-frequency modulation of the electro-acupuncture device appears to release one type of endorphin that produces analgesia of slower onset but longer duration.
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