Postoperative pain management with acupuncture

Th. Grube, A. Kornberg, Ch. Uhlemann, W. Meissner, J. Scheele
Surgical Clinic Jena, Germany

Background: Acupuncture has become very popular in several fields of pain management, especially in treatment of chronicle pain. The purpose of this study is the assessment of acupuncture in the treatment of postoperative pain.

Material and methods: After defined operations (vaginal and laparoscopic hysterectomy, laparoscopic appendectomy), all patients received patient controlled analgesia (PCA) with piritramid and we randomized in three groups;

Group 1 (n = 18) received PCA and acupuncture after a defined time table.
Group 2 (n = 17) received PCA and 1 g metamizol at the same time.
Group 3 (n = 17) PCA only was applicated.

At defined points of time, patients were asked for pain intensity, nausea and frequency of vomiting using visual analog scale (VAS). At the same time, blood pressure, heart frequency, skin temperature was noticed. At the end of evaluation, the consumption of piritramid was documented.

Results: The use of acupuncture (group 1) lead to a reduction of piritramid application of more than 50 percent compared to group 3. In group 2, the consumption of piritramid was less than in group 3, but still higher than in group 1. We also noticed a good impact of acupuncture concerning nausea and vomiting.

Conclusion: Using scientific and reproducible parameters, acupuncture proved to be sufficient in the management of postoperative pain, nausea and vomiting. Especially multimorbid patients with risk of operation related or pharmacological side effects benefit from acupuncture. There was no effect of acupuncture regarding blood pressure and heart rate.