Background: Acupuncture or acupressure at the Nei-Guan (P.6) point on the wrist produces antiemetic effects in awake but not anesthetized patients. The authors studied whether a combined approach using preoperative acupressure and intra- and postoperative acupuncture can prevent emesis following tonsillectomy in children.
Methods: Patients 2-12 yr of age were randomly assigned to study or placebo groups. Two Acubands with (study) and two without (placebo) spherical beads were applied bilaterally on the P.6 points; non-bead- and bead-containing Acubands, respectively, were applied on the sham points. All Acubands were applied before any drug administration. After anesthetic induction, acupuncture needles were substituted for the beads and remained in situ until the next day. All points were covered with opaque tape to prevent study group identification. A uniform anesthetic technique was used; postoperative pain was managed initially with morphine and later with acetaminophen and codeine. Emesis, defined as retching or vomiting, was assessed postoperatively. Ondansetron was administered only after two emetic episodes at least 2 min apart. Droperidol was added if emesis persisted.
Results: One hundred patients were enrolled in the study. There were no differences in age, weight, follow-up duration, or perioperative opioid administration between groups. Retching occurred in 26% of the study patients and in 28% of the placebo patients; 51 and 55%, respectively, vomited; and 60 and 59%, respectively, did either. There were no significant differences between the groups. Redness occurred in 8.5% of acupuncture sites.
Conclusion: Perioperative acupressure and acupuncture did not diminish emesis in children following tonsillectomy.