Acupunct Med doi:10.1136/aim.2010.002915
  • Original papers

Perioperative acupuncture and postoperative acupressure can prevent postoperative vomiting following paediatric tonsillectomy or adenoidectomy: a pragmatic randomised controlled trial

  1. Arne Johan Norheim3
  1. 1Department of Clinical Dentistry, University of Oslo, Geitmyrsveien, Oslo, Norway
  2. 2Department of Anaesthesiology, Lovisenberg Diakonale Hospital, Lovisenberggata 17, Oslo, Norway
  3. 3The National Research Centre in Complementary and Alternative Medicine, University of Troms, Forskningsparken, Tromsø, Norway
  4. 4Clinical Research Centre, University Hospital of North Norway, Tromsø, Norway
  1. Correspondence to Ingrid Liodden, Department of Clinical Dentistry, University of Oslo, Geitmyrsveien 69/71, 0455 Oslo, Norway; i.e.liodden{at}
  1. Contributors MH, ASG, VMF, EKB, TA and AJN contributed to the conception and design of the study. MH contributed to the acquisition of data. EB contributed his statistical knowledge. All authors participated in the analysis and interpretation of data. They also drafted the article and revised it critically for important intellectual content; and approved the version to be published.

  • Accepted 12 November 2010
  • Published Online First 18 December 2010


Objective To investigate the effectiveness of acupuncture and acupressure as supplements to standard treatment for postoperative vomiting in children undergoing tonsillectomy and/or adenoidectomy.

Methods A pragmatic, open, block-randomised controlled trial. The results were analysed according to the intention-to-treat principle. The study was conducted without extra resources in a normal setting at the day-surgery department of Lovisenberg Diakonale Hospital in Oslo. 154 children with an American Society of Anesthesiologists grade 1–2, weighing at least 10 kg, were included. Children with concomitant gastrointestinal diseases, emesis or antiemetic treatment <24 h preoperatively, rash or local infection over the actual acupuncture points were excluded together with patients whose parents' informed consent could not be obtained. The intervention group received acupuncture at pericardium 6 bilaterally, at a depth of approximately 0.7 cm with a median of 21 min during anaesthesia, followed by acupressure wristbands for 24 h and standard treatment. The control group received standard treatment. The primary end point was the occurrence of vomiting or retching during 24 h postoperatively.

Results Children in the acustimulation group experienced less retching and vomiting than the control group—46.8% versus 66.2% (p=0.015). The effect of acustimulation was specifically pronounced in girls and children aged 1–3 years.

Conclusion This trial indicates the effectiveness of acustimulation as an adjunct to standard treatment. The results should encourage and promote the implementation of acustimulation for postoperative vomiting in children undergoing adenoidectomy or tonsillectomy.


  • Funding The study was financed by Lovisenberg Diakonale Hospital, Oslo, and the National Research Centre in Complementary and Alternative medicine at the University of Tromsø (NAFKAM).

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval The regional ethics committee (Ref: 200704180-5/IAY/400) approved the study, which was carried out in accordance with the Helsinki Declaration.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.