Friday, September 26, 2008
Acupuncture, already shown to help ease the nausea patients often suffer after having surgery, may actually work better than drugs, U.S. researchers reported. And patients were happier with the treatment, the team at Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina found.
The researchers studied 75 women having major breast surgery such as breast augmentation, breast reduction or mastectomy. All needed general anesthesia to be rendered unconscious and immobile. This often causes nausea upon awakening.
The 75 women were randomly divided into three groups. One group received acupuncture, another group was given an anti-nausea drug called ondansetron, sold by GlaxoSmithKline under the brand name Zofran, and the third group received neither. Two hours after surgery, 77 percent of the patients given acupuncture had no nausea or vomiting, compared to 64 percent for those given the drug and 42 percent who received nothing.
Writing in the journal Anesthesia and Analgesia, Dr. Tong Joo Gan and colleagues said they used an electro-acupuncture device that delivers a small electrical pulse through the skin, rather than traditional needles.
“The patients in our randomized trial who received acupuncture enjoyed a more comfortable recovery from their surgery than those who received an anti-sickness medication,” Gan said in a statement. “In the areas of postoperative nausea and vomiting control, pain relief, and general overall satisfaction, acupuncture appears to be more effective than the most commonly used medication, with few to no side-effects.”