J Integr Med. 2015; 13 (2): 99-104 By Gemma M 


BACKGROUND: Acupuncture anesthesia was created in the 1950's in China and continues to be used there today during most major surgeries. It is widely used in China for such complex operations as brain, heart, and abdominal surgery. It is popular in China because it is economical, practical, and beneficial to the patients. With acupuncture anesthesia there is less bleeding during surgery and there is also quicker post-operative recovery. 

OBJECTIVE: This randomized prospective study aims at comparing the effect of two acupoints (Yongquan, KI1 and Renzhong, DU26) with sham acupuncture and no acupuncture on the time to recovery of consciousness after general anesthesia by means of the Bispectral Index monitor (BIS). 
DESIGN, SETTING, PARTICIPANTS AND INTERVENTIONS: This is a prospective randomized controlled study. We randomly assigned 50 patients to 5 groups during recovery from surgical anesthesia. Four groups had acupuncture on KI1 (group A), DU26 (groups B), both KI1 and DU26 (group C), and sham points (group D), and one had no acupuncture (group E). 

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Bispectral Index (BIS), time to spontaneous eye opening, time to tracheal extubation, and time to following commands were measured as the main outcome measures. 

RESULTS: Time to spontaneous eye opening differed among groups (P=0.002), as well as time to tracheal extubation (P<0.000 1) and time to following commands (P=0.000 6). BIS values differed significantly among groups both 5 and 10 min after the end of anesthesia (P<0.000 1 and P=0.000 4, respectively). BIS values of groups D and E were lower than those of the other groups and those of group C were higher. The same pattern was observed also 15 and 30 min after the end of anesthesia, although the difference among groups was not significant at these time points (P=0.164 and P=0.104, respectively). 

CONCLUSION: Acupuncture on DU26 and KI1 accelerates recovery of consciousness after general anesthesia. Moreover, a possible synergistic effect of DU26 and KI1 is suggested. This issue may play a role in the optimization of operating room management and raise interest about the usefulness of acupuncture on unconsciousness states of different nature.