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Semi-permanent acupuncture needles in the prevention of post-operative nausea and vomiting
  1. J Andrzejowski, Specialist Registrars,
  2. D Woodward, Specialist Registrars
  1. Department of Anaesthetics, Northern General Hospital, Herries Road, Sheffield S5 7AU (UK)


    The efficacy of acupressure and acupuncture at the Pericardium 6 (PC.6) point in relieving post-operative nausea and vomiting (PONV) is well known. Lengthy manual stimulation of the needles, or electrostimulation, is inconvenient and incurs extra costs. The aim of this study was to test the effectiveness of the antiemetic action of semi-permanent acupuncture needles (SPANs), a cheap and convenient method of administering acupuncture, in the first 48 hours following gynaecological surgery.

    Patients (n = 36) having total abdominal hysterectomy were studied in a randomised, placebo controlled trial. Study group patients had SPANs inserted in PC.6 on both wrists. The control group had SPANs inserted into sham points on their forearms. There was no difference in the median nausea scores between the groups; however six patients suffered moderate or severe nausea during the second 24 hours in the control group, with none in the study group (p < 0.05). In addition, the nausea score between 8 and 24 hours in patients who had previously experienced PONV, was lower in the study group (median score 2) compared to the control group (median score 4) (p < 0.05).

    We conclude that the use of SPANs does not reduce the overall incidence of nausea and vomiting but does appear to reduce the severity of nausea in the second 24 hours, and has a greater effect on patients who had had nausea and vomiting after a previous anaesthetic.

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