Acupuncture anesthesia for open heart surgery in contemporary China

Int J Cardiol. 2011 Jul 1;150(1):12-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ijcard.2011.04.002. Epub 2011 May 12.


Background: Although the use of acupuncture anesthesia for open heart surgery, which was introduced in China four decades ago, has declined in recent years, there is a renewed interest in it in contemporary China due to the escalating medical costs associated with open heart surgery. This study was aimed to determine whether a combined acupuncture-medicine anesthesia (CAMA) strategy reduces early postoperative morbidity and medical costs in patients undergoing open heart operation under cardiopulmonary bypass.

Methods: From July 2006 to October 2010, CAMA was applied in 100 patients undergoing open heart surgery in comparison with another 100 patients under the conventional general anesthesia (GA). For all the CAMA patients, an abdominal breathing training program was practiced for the 3 consecutive days prior to operation. About 15 to 20 min prior to surgical incision, acupuncture needles were inserted into the bilateral points ZhongFu, LieQue, and XiMen. During operation, patients were kept on spontaneous breathing. Endotracheal intubation was not employed but only prepared as a standby. The narcotic drugs, fentanyl and midazolam, were intravenously injected but in very low doses as compared to GA. Open heart procedures were performed routinely in both groups.

Results: Compared with the GA patients, the CAMA patients had a less usage of narcotic drugs (p<0.001), less postoperative pulmonary infection (p<0.05), shorter stay in intensive care unit (p<0.05), and a lower medical cost (P<0.05).

Conclusions: A combined acupuncture-medicine anesthesia strategy reduces the postoperative morbidity and medical costs in patients undergoing open heart surgery under cardiopulmonary bypass.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Muscles / physiology
  • Acupuncture Analgesia / economics
  • Acupuncture Analgesia / methods*
  • Acupuncture Analgesia / trends
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anesthesia, General / adverse effects
  • Anesthesia, General / methods
  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures / economics
  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures / methods*
  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures / trends
  • China / epidemiology
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay / economics
  • Length of Stay / trends
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Narcotics / administration & dosage
  • Postoperative Complications / economics
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control*
  • Young Adult


  • Narcotics