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Anesth Analg. 2005 Feb;100(2):367-72.

Optimal timing of acustimulation for antiemetic prophylaxis as an adjunct to ondansetron in patients undergoing plastic surgery.

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  • 1Department of Anesthesiology & Pain Management, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, 5323 Harry Hines Blvd., Dallas, TX 75390-9068, USA. paul.white@utsouthwestern.ed


We designed this study to evaluate the antiemetic efficacy of transcutaneous electrical acupoint stimulation in combination with ondansetron when applied before, after, or both before and after plastic surgery. A randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled study design was used to compare three prophylactic acustimulation treatment schedules: preoperative--an active device was applied for 30 min before and a sham device for 72 h after surgery; postoperative--a sham device was applied for 30 min before and an active device for 72 h after surgery; and perioperative--an active device was applied for 30 min before and 72 h after surgery (n = 35 per group). All patients received a standardized general anesthetic, and ondansetron 4 mg IV was administered at the end of surgery. The incidence of vomiting/retching and the need for rescue antiemetics were determined at specific time intervals for up to 72 h after surgery. Nausea scores were recorded with an 11-point verbal rating scale. Other outcome variables assessed included discharge times (for outpatients), resumption of normal activities of daily living, complete antiemetic response rate, and patient satisfaction with antiemetic therapy and quality of recovery. Perioperative use of the ReliefBand significantly increased complete responses (68%) compared with use of the device before surgery only (43%). Median postoperative nausea scores were significantly reduced in the peri- and postoperative (versus preoperative) treatment groups. Finally, patient satisfaction with the quality of recovery (83 +/- 16 and 85 +/- 13 vs 72 +/- 18) and antiemetic management (96 +/- 9 and 94 +/- 10 vs 86 +/- 13) on an arbitrary scale from 0 = worst to 100 = best was significantly higher in the groups receiving peri- or postoperative (versus preoperative) acustimulation therapy. For patients discharged on the day of surgery, the time to home readiness was significantly reduced (114 +/- 41 min versus 164 +/- 50 min; P < 0.05) when acustimulation was administered perioperatively (versus preoperatively). In conclusion, acustimulation with the ReliefBand was most effective in reducing postoperative nausea and vomiting and improving patients' satisfaction with their antiemetic therapy when it was administered after surgery.

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