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Pain. 2005 Apr;114(3):511-7.

Acupuncture analgesia during surgery: a systematic review.

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Department of Medical Sciences, Graduate School of East-West Medical Science, KyungHee University, Yongin, South Korea.


The aim of this systematic review is to assess the effectiveness of acupuncture as an adjunctive analgesic method to standard anaesthetic procedures for surgery and to determine whether acupuncture has any analgesic-sparing effect. Electronic literature searches for randomised clinical trials (RCTs) of acupuncture during surgery were performed in seven electronic databases. No language restrictions were imposed. All included studies were rated according to their methodological quality and validity. As the studies were clinically heterogeneous, no meta-analyses were performed. The evidence was classified according to four levels: strong, moderate, limited, or inconclusive. Nineteen RCTs were identified. Seven of them suggested that acupuncture is efficacious. Of nine high-quality RCTs, two studies had positive outcomes. There was no significant association between study quality and direction of outcome. One of eight high-validity trials reported a positive outcome and there was a significant relationship between validity and direction of outcome. The evidence that acupuncture is more effective than no acupuncture as an adjunct to standard anaesthetic procedures is therefore inconclusive. Strong evidence exists that real acupuncture is not significantly different from placebo acupuncture. For an analgesic-sparing effect of acupuncture, evidence remains inconclusive. In conclusion, this review does not support the use of acupuncture as an adjunct to standard anaesthetic procedures during surgery.

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