Acupuncture prior to surgery to minimise postoperative nausea and vomiting: a systematic review



Acupuncture prior to surgery to minimise postoperative nausea and vomiting: a systematic review


Journal Publication







Research Type

Systematic Review



Aims and objectives. The aim of this systematic review was to assess the outcome of acupuncture treatment prior to surgery in order to avoid or minimise postoperative nausea and vomiting. Background. The symptoms of nausea and/or vomiting remain a huge problem for many patients after surgery. There is much debate around the best treatment for nausea and/or vomiting, and the most beneficial solution has yet to be found. Postoperative nausea and vomiting is not a life-threatening symptom, but many patients express great distress and dissatisfaction with the existing treatment. Many patients rate their nausea similar to or worse than pain. Historically, treatments often include drug therapy, but not other non-pharmacologic therapies, such as acupuncture or acupressure, which can have beneficial effects on nausea. Design. A systematic literature review. Methods. The review was undertaken using key words and electronic databases and included 21 papers from the years November 1996 until August 2009. Results. The results indicate that the application of acupuncture reduced the incidence of nausea but not vomiting when compared with the use of antiemetic prophylaxis alone. Conclusions. The results show that there is a lack of knowledge of the best treatment to minimise postoperative nausea and vomiting prior to surgery. Relevance to clinical practice. The overall results of this review conclude that all kinds of AP stimulation, both non-invasive and invasive, seem to prevent PONV with minimal side effects. The findings from this study can be used to inform future research to evaluate the effects of preoperative treatment with acupuncture vs. sham procedure before surgery to avoid PONV.

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