While not very common in the US, China and other countries who have better integration of acupuncture into their hospital systems use acupuncture to limit the drugs required for anesthesia. It is well known that this works but what points to use specifically and how much western medication can be reduced is still a topic of discussion. Within this study, researchers from the Yueyang Integrated Medical Hospital in Shanghai tried to illustrate the most effective combinations.
The study was in effect a comparison between very specific needling with general anesthesia and non acupoint needling with anesthesia as a control – along with a non acupuncture group as a true control for the overall effect. The study looked at 90 patients that were undergoing surgery to remove their gallbladder. One group was specific acupuncture points and they used LI 4, PC 6, ST 36 and GB 34. All groups received anesthesia (Fentanyl, Propofol, Vecuronium Bromide) with the acupuncture groups receiving less. The study looked at how much chemical anesthesia was required and general pain scales post surgery.
The study found that acupuncture lessened the need for chemical anesthesia and reduced post-operative pain overall. They found that the non-acupuncture point needling did have an effect but very limited in compared to point specific needling. This being similar to other studies that have looked at the general effects of needling anywhere on the body and endorphine and other responses.