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J Gastrointest Surg. 2011 Apr;15(4):660-6. doi: 10.1007/s11605-011-1446-5. Epub 2011 Feb 15.

Electroacupuncture in reduction of discomfort associated with barostat-induced rectal distension--a randomized controlled study.

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Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom, Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR, China.



This pilot study aims to explore the effectiveness of electroacupuncture in reduction of colorectal discomfort caused by Barostat-induced rectal distension.


Subjects scheduled for a colonoscopy screening procedure were recruited and randomized to receive either electroacupuncture (EA) or sham acupuncture (SA) (short stud instead of needle) for 45 min to acupuncture points Hegu (LI4), Neiguan (PC6), and Zusanli (ST36). A balloon catheter attached to the Dual Drive Barostat machine was then inserted into the subjects' rectal region. Colorectal discomfort after each incremental pressure (4 mmHg) rise was assessed by visual analog and a four-point subjective discomfort scale. Blood beta-endorphin level was measured before, immediately after acupuncture, at 24 mmHg, and at maximal tolerable inflation pressure.


Forty subjects completed the study. Rectal discomfort was reported at a higher inflation pressure in the EA group compared to the SA group (p < 0.05). Twelve subjects in the EA group were able to tolerate the maximal inflation pressure (48 mmHg) compared to only four in the SA group. Beta-endorphin levels increased significantly in the EA group but not in the SA group.


Electroacupuncture appeared to be effective in reduction of colorectal discomfort during Barostat-induced rectal distension. The role of electroacupuncture during colonoscopy warrants further investigation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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