In 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. In conducting the trial, the researchers also demonstrated that the pressure point they stimulated possesses previously unknown pain-killing properties. Results of the Duke study were published Sept. 22, 2004, in the journal Anesthesia and Analgesia.
Treating postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV) is an important medical issue. About 70 percent of women who undergo major breast surgery requiring general anesthesia suffer from this complication, according to Duke anesthesiologist Tong Joo (T.J.) Gan, M.D., who led the trial. These adverse side effects are important factors in determining how soon patients can return home after surgery. "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 areas of PONV control, pain relief, and general overall satisfaction, acupuncture appears to be more effective than the most commonly used medication, with few to no side effects."
Richard Merritt | EurekAlert!
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