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Acupressure Eases Post-Surgical Nausea

What the Study Showed
How It Was Done
Why It's Important

What the Study Showed

An Austrian study of a little-known Korean acupressure technique has shown that it can significantly relieve nausea and vomiting after minor surgery. Researchers at the University of Innsbruck performed the randomized, placebo-controlled study. The results, published in 2002 in Anesthesia Analgesia, indicate that stimulation of the Korean hand acupuncture point K-K9 is an excellent method for reducing postoperative nausea.

How It Was Done

The study involved 80 women, ranging in age from 18 to 60. All were scheduled for minor (gynecological) laparoscopic surgery. The women were randomly assigned to two groups. One received acupressure on the K-K9 point, which corresponds to the Chinese acupuncture point P6. (This Chinese point has been shown in numerous studies to have an anti-nausea effect.) The comparison group received acupressure on points that are not defined in Korean hand acupuncture.

In both groups the pressure was applied using 2-mm acupressure "seeds," small beads fastened to the points with adhesive tape one hour before the procedure, and left in place for 24 hours. Typically, acupressure discs called AB-Bongs are used in Korean hand acupressure. The seeds were substituted in this study because they produce a more powerful stimulus, which has proven necessary to prevent nausea in a previous study of the Chinese acupuncture point.

Normal premedication and operative anesthesia were given to both groups of women for the surgery. For 24 hours beginning after the start of anesthesia, the incidence of nausea and vomiting was recorded by nursing staff. Sixteen patients in the acupressure group experienced nausea, in contrast to 28 in the placebo group. Similarly, while 9 patients in the acupressure group vomited, 20 in the placebo group did.

Why It's Important

The findings of this study indicate that postoperative nausea and vomiting can be curbed by Korean acupressure. Until now, there have been very few studies on Korean hand acupressure a relatively new system developed by physician T-W Yoo. The only previous research on its use to control postoperative nausea was a study on a group of children who were receiving surgery for crossed eyes (strabismus).

The present study makes a big contribution in support of this method for alleviating postoperative nausea, offering some patients a safe, natural alternative to anti-nausea drugs.

Source: Boehler M, Mitterschiffthaler G, Schlager A. Korean Hand Acupressure Reduces Postoperative Nausea and Vomiting After Gynecological Laparoscopic Surgery. Anesth Analg 2002;94:872-75.


Date Published: 07/30/2002
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