Acupuncture to alleviate chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting in pediatric oncology - a randomized multicenter crossover pilot trial

Klin Padiatr. 2008 Nov-Dec;220(6):365-70. doi: 10.1055/s-0028-1086039. Epub 2008 Oct 23.


Background: We investigated whether acupuncture as a supportive antiemetic approach reduces the need for antiemetic rescue medication during highly emetogenic chemotherapy in pediatric oncology. We report on a multicenter crossover study at 5 tertiary hospitals in Germany.

Procedure: Twenty-three children (13.6 y,+/- 2.9) receiving highly emetogenic chemotherapy for treatment of solid malignant tumors were included. Patients were randomly allocated to receive acupuncture treatment during either the second or third identical chemotherapy course together with standard antiemetic medication. The main outcome measure was the amount of additional antiemetic medication during chemotherapy. Secondary outcome measure was the number of episodes of vomiting per course.

Results: Fourty-six chemotherapy courses with or without acupuncture were compared. The need for rescue antiemetic medication was significantly lower in acupuncture courses compared to control courses (p=0.001) Episodes of vomiting per course were also significantly lower in courses with acupuncture (p=0.01). Except for pain from needling (4/23) no side effects occurred. Patients acceptance of acupuncture was high.

Conclusions: Acupuncture as applied here seems to be effective in preventing nausea and vomiting in pediatric cancer patients.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture*
  • Adolescent
  • Antiemetics / therapeutic use
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / toxicity*
  • Child
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nausea / chemically induced*
  • Nausea / therapy*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vomiting / chemically induced*
  • Vomiting / therapy*


  • Antiemetics