Intraoperative and postoperative anaesthetic and analgesic effect of multipoint transcutaneous electrical acupuncture stimulation combined with sufentanil anaesthesia in patients undergoing supratentorial craniotomy

Acupunct Med. 2015 Aug;33(4):270-6. doi: 10.1136/acupmed-2014-010749. Epub 2015 Apr 29.


Objectives: To investigate the anaesthetic and analgesic effect of multipoint transcutaneous electrical acupuncture stimulation (TEAS) during supratentorial tumour resection for postoperative recovery and side effects.

Methods: In a blinded clinical trial, 92 patients scheduled for supratentorial craniotomy under general anaesthesia were randomly allocated into either a multipoint TEAS (n=46) or a sham TEAS group (n=46). All patients received total intravenous anaesthesia (TIVA) with propofol and sufentanil. The target concentration of sufentanil was adjusted and recorded according to mean arterial pressure (MAP), heart rate (HR) and bispectral index (BIS). Patients in the TEAS group received TEAS 30 min before anaesthesia induction and this was maintained throughout the operation at four pairs of acupuncture points. Postoperative pain, recovery and side effects were evaluated.

Results: Eighty-eight patients completed the study. Continuous monitoring of MAP, HR and BIS showed stable values with no significant differences between the two groups (p>0.05). Sufentanil target plasma concentration in TEAS patients was significantly lower at some time points during supratentorial craniotomy, and total sufentanil consumption was significantly higher in the sham group (p<0.05). Postoperative recovery and pain were significantly improved by TEAS (p<0.001), without the postoperative side effects.

Conclusions: Multipoint TEAS at both proximal and distal points combined with TIVA can significantly decrease intraoperative sufentanil requirements, increase pain relief on postoperative day 1 and improve postoperative recovery of patients during supratentorial tumour resection, with no significant increase of side effects. These findings suggest that multipoint TEAS may be clinically effective as an adjunct to analgesia in intraoperative anaesthesia and postoperative pain treatment and may speed recovery.

Trial registration number: Chinese Clinical Trial Registry (registration number ChiCTR-TRC-10001078).


Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Analgesia*
  • Acupuncture Points
  • Adult
  • Anesthesia, General
  • Anesthetics / administration & dosage*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Craniotomy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intraoperative Care
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain, Postoperative / drug therapy
  • Pain, Postoperative / therapy*
  • Sufentanil / administration & dosage*
  • Supratentorial Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation*


  • Anesthetics
  • Sufentanil