Objectives To assess the effectiveness and safety of acupuncture for hiccups following stroke.
Methods Medline, Embase, CENTRAL, CINAHL, and four Chinese medical databases were searched from their inception to 1 June 2015. The dataset included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) with no language restrictions that compared acupuncture as an adjunct to medical treatment (effectiveness) or acupuncture versus medical treatment (comparative effectiveness) in stroke patients with hiccups. The Cochrane risk of bias tool was used to assess the methodological quality of the trials.
Results Out of 436 potentially relevant studies, five met the inclusion criteria. When acupuncture was compared with other interventions (as sole or adjunctive treatment), meta-analysis revealed a significant difference in favour of cessation of hiccups within a specified time period (CHWST) following intervention when used as an adjunct (risk ratio (RR) 1.59, 95% CI 1.16 to 2.19, I2=0%), but not when used alone (RR 1.40, 95% CI 0.79 to 2.47, I2=65%, ie, high heterogeneity). No safety information was reported in these studies.
Conclusions Our systematic review and meta-analysis suggests that acupuncture may be an effective treatment for patients suffering from hiccups following stroke when used as an adjunct to medical treatment. However, due to the limited number of RCTs and poor methodology quality, we cannot reach a definitive conclusion, hence further large, rigorously designed trials are needed.
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