Perioperative acupuncture and postoperative acupressure can prevent postoperative vomiting following paediatric tonsillectomy or adenoidectomy: a pragmatic randomised controlled trial

Acupunct Med. 2011 Mar;29(1):9-15. doi: 10.1136/aim.2010.002915. Epub 2010 Dec 18.


Objective: To investigate the effectiveness of acupuncture and acupressure as supplements to standard treatment for postoperative vomiting in children undergoing tonsillectomy and/or adenoidectomy.

Methods: A pragmatic, open, block-randomised controlled trial. The results were analysed according to the intention-to-treat principle. The study was conducted without extra resources in a normal setting at the day-surgery department of Lovisenberg Diakonale Hospital in Oslo. 154 children with an American Society of Anesthesiologists grade 1-2, weighing at least 10 kg, were included. Children with concomitant gastrointestinal diseases, emesis or antiemetic treatment <24 h preoperatively, rash or local infection over the actual acupuncture points were excluded together with patients whose parents' informed consent could not be obtained. The intervention group received acupuncture at pericardium 6 bilaterally, at a depth of approximately 0.7 cm with a median of 21 min during anaesthesia, followed by acupressure wristbands for 24 h and standard treatment. The control group received standard treatment. The primary end point was the occurrence of vomiting or retching during 24 h postoperatively.

Results: Children in the acustimulation group experienced less retching and vomiting than the control group-46.8% versus 66.2% (p=0.015). The effect of acustimulation was specifically pronounced in girls and children aged 1-3 years.

Conclusion: This trial indicates the effectiveness of acustimulation as an adjunct to standard treatment. The results should encourage and promote the implementation of acustimulation for postoperative vomiting in children undergoing adenoidectomy or tonsillectomy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acupressure / methods*
  • Acupuncture Points*
  • Adenoidectomy / adverse effects*
  • Analgesics / therapeutic use
  • Antiemetics / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Norway
  • Pain, Postoperative / therapy
  • Perioperative Care / methods*
  • Postoperative Nausea and Vomiting / etiology
  • Postoperative Nausea and Vomiting / therapy*
  • Research Design
  • Tonsillectomy / adverse effects*


  • Analgesics
  • Antiemetics