Background: The aim of this study was to compare the pain-relieving effect and the subjective well-being between auricular electro-acupuncture (EA) analgesia, auricular acupuncture (A) and conventional analgesia with remifentanil (CO).
Methods: A total of 94 women undergoing IVF were randomized to auricular acupuncture with (EA, n = 32) or without (A, n = 32) continuous 1 Hz auricular stimulation (using a battery-powered miniaturized stimulator, P-Stim) or with adhesive tapes instead of needles and no electrical stimulation (control group, CO, n = 30) at the auricular acupuncture points 29, 55 and 57. All patients received patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) with remifentanil. Pain intensity and psychological well-being were assessed by means of visual analogue scales (VAS); tiredness, nausea and vomiting and analgesic drug consumption were documented.
Results: Pain relief and subjective well-being were significantly greater in group EA during and after the procedure as compared with groups A and CO (P < 0.001). The patients were significantly more tired in group CO than in groups A and EA (P < 0.001). Consumption of the opioid remifentanil was significantly lower in group EA, comparable nausea (P < 0.001).
Conclusion: Auricular EA significantly reduces pain intensity and analgesic consumption of the opioid remifentanil during oocyte aspiration in IVF treatment.