Study objectives: The aims of the present study were to evaluate acupuncture as an alternative treatment to an indwelling catheter for women with postpartum urinary retention, and to evaluate the accuracy of sonographic estimation of bladder volume by portable bedside equipment in women postpartum.
Study background: Post-partum urinary retention is a common obstetric complication. The accepted method for diagnosing post void residual bladder volume is by ultrasound or catheterization. However, the accuracy of bedside sonographic evaluation of bladder volume in women postpartum is controversial due to anatomical and technical issues. The traditional treatment of urinary retention is catheterization for variable lengths of time. Acupuncture, while an accepted treatment method for urinary retention in traditional societies in the Far East, has not been proven scientifically to resolve the problem. Therefore, the aims of our study were to evaluate acupuncture as an alternative treatment to catheterization for urinary retention, and to evaluate the accuracy of sonographic estimation of bladder volume by portable bedside ultrasound in women postpartum.
Materials and methods: The study was a prospective randomized case-controlled trial conducted in 55 women post-partum with urinary retention. All patients underwent a pre and post treatment sonographic evaluation of bladder volume. Women with urinary retention were given the choice of treatment by acupuncture or catheterization. Acupuncture was performed by an experienced acupuncturist licensed in Traditional Chinese Medicine and point selection was based on Meridian theory and clinical experience.
Results: In the acupuncture group, 23 women (92%) achieved spontaneous micturition within one hour following treatment. Bedside sonographic evaluation of bladder volume showed excellent correlation to actual volume as measured by catheterization (r2 = 0.988).
Conclusion: Acupuncture proved to be an excellent alternative to catheterization in treatment of women with postpartum urinary retention.
Keywords: Acupuncture; Catheterization; Residual bladder volume; Urinary retention.
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