Effect of P6 acustimulation on post-operative nausea and vomiting in patients undergoing a laparoscopic cholecystectomy

Acta Anaesthesiol Scand. 2009 Nov;53(10):1341-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-6576.2009.02081.x. Epub 2009 Aug 13.


Background: Non-pharmacologic techniques such as electrical acustimulation may mitigate post-operative nausea and vomiting (PONV). The primary purpose of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of acustimulation on attenuating PONV. Moreover, we tested whether a pre- or a post-induction application of acustimulation results in differences in PONV reduction.

Methods: In this prospective, double-blind, randomized, controlled trial, we studied 200 patients undergoing a laparoscopic cholecystectomy during propofol (induction) fentanyl/isoflurane/atracurium (maintenance) anaesthesia. In the acustimulation group (n=101), subdivided into groups with pre-induction (n=57) and post-induction (n=44) acustimulation, an active ReliefBand device was placed at the P6 acupoint. In the sham group (n=99), also subdivided into pre-induction (n=55) or post-induction (n=44) groups, an inactive device was applied instead. The ReliefBand remained in place for 24 h after surgery. Nausea and vomiting/retching were recorded at 2, 6, and 24 h post-operatively.

Results: The incidence of early nausea (up to 2 h) was significantly lower in the acustimulation than in the sham group (29% vs. 42%; P=0.043). No significant effect could be detected for retching/vomiting. Moreover, acustimulation showed no effect on PONV after 6 and 24 h. Risk factor analysis (female gender, non-smoker, history of PONV/motion sickness, and post-operative morphine usage) revealed a relative reduction in risk of 40% for nausea (P=0.021) and 55% for retching/vomiting (P=0.048) in patients with three or four risk factors present. The timing of (pre- vs. post-induction) acustimulation had no significant effect on PONV reduction.

Conclusion: Acustimulation at the P6 acupoint reduces early nausea, but not vomiting, after laparoscopic cholecystectomy, irrespective of its pre- or post-induction application.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Points*
  • Acupuncture Therapy / methods*
  • Cholecystectomy, Laparoscopic*
  • Clinical Protocols
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Nausea and Vomiting / prevention & control*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome