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Electroacupuncture accelerates gastric emptying in association with changes in vagal activity.

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  • 1Division of Gastroenterology, University of Texas Medical Branch, 301 University Boulevard, Galveston, TX 77555-0632, USA.


Gastroparesis is a disorder with a lack of treatment options and this study investigated the effect of electroacupuncture on gastric emptying and involved mechanisms. Dogs implanted with a duodenal cannula and serosal electrodes were fed with Ensure mixed with phenol red, and the gastric effluent was collected. Electroacupuncture was performed from 30 min before until 45 min after the meal. Gastric myoelectrical activity and electrocardiogram were recorded. Gastric emptying was significantly improved with electroacupuncture. Vagal activity assessed from the spectral analysis of heart rate variability was markedly increased with electroacupuncture. Electroacupuncture increased the regularity of gastric slow waves in both the proximal and distal stomach. It also increased the number of spike bursts in the distal but not proximal stomach. Electroacupuncture accelerates gastric emptying of liquid in dogs and its potential for treating gastroparesis may be explored. The effect may be attributed to improvement in gastric slow-wave rhythmicity and antral contractile (spike) activity and may possibly involve the vagal pathway.

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