Background Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) is one of the most common diseases presenting to gastroenterology clinics. Acupuncture is widely used as a complementary and alternative treatment for patients with GORD.
Objective To explore the effectiveness of acupuncture for the treatment of GORD.
Methods Four English and four Chinese databases were searched through June 2016. Randomised controlled trials investigating the effectiveness of manual acupuncture or electroacupuncture (MA/EA) for GORD versus or as an adjunct to Western medicine (WM) were selected. Data extraction and quality evaluation were performed by two authors independently and RevMan 5.2.0 was used to analyse data.
Results A total of 12 trials involving 1235 patients were included. Meta-analyses demonstrated that patients receiving MA/EA combined with WM had a superior global symptom improvement compared with those receiving WM alone (relative risk (RR) 1.17, 95% CI 1.09 to 1.26; p=0.03; six studies) with no significant heterogeneity (I2=0%, p=0.41). Recurrence rates of those receiving MA/EA alone were lower than those receiving WM (RR 0.42,95% CI 0.29 to 0.61; p<0.001; three studies) with low heterogeneity (I2=7%, p=0.34), while global symptom improvement (six studies) and symptom scores (three studies) were similar (both p>0.05). Descriptive analyses suggested that acupuncture also improves quality of life in patients with GORD.
Conclusion This meta-analysis suggests that acupuncture is an effective and safe treatment for GORD. However, due to the small sample size and poor methodological quality of the included trials, further studies are required to validate our conclusions.
Trial registration number PROSPERO Systematic review registration no. CRD42016041916.
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