Effectiveness of Auricular Acupressure for Acute Postoperative Pain after Surgery: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Chin J Integr Med. 2019 Mar;25(3):225-232. doi: 10.1007/s11655-019-3063-1. Epub 2019 Feb 28.


Objective: To identify the effectiveness of auricular acupressure (AA) in patients with acute postoperative pain after surgery by systematic review.

Methods: A search of randomized controlled trials was conducted in 5 English medical electronic databases and 4 Chinese databases. Two reviewers independently retrieved related studies, assessed the methodological quality, and extracted data with a standardized data form. Meta-analyses were performed using all time-points meta-analysis.

Results: A total of 26 studies with 1,682 participants were included. Results showed that compared with conventional therapy, AA significantly improved the total effective rate [risk ratio=1.25, 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.13 to 1.37, Plt;0.0001; heterogeneity: Plt;0.0001, I2=85%]. In the subgroup analysis, the results changed in different follow-up time and surgery categories. The pain relief in the AA group might be the most significant at 72 h after surgery (mean difference=-0.85, 95% CI,-1.20 to-0.50, Plt;0.0001) and in abdominal surgery (mean difference=-1.15, 95% CI,-1.41 to-0.90, Plt;0.0001). Sensitivity analysis demonstrated that the results of this meta-analysis were stable. No serious adverse effects were recorded.

Conclusion: It was recommended to provide AA to patients with acute postoperative pain. However, a more accurate estimate of the effect requires further rigorously designed large-scale and high-quality RCTs for improving acute postoperative pain after surgery.

Keywords: acute postoperative pain; auricular acupressure; meta-analysis; systematic review.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acupressure / methods*
  • Acute Disease
  • Ear
  • Humans
  • Pain, Postoperative / therapy*
  • Publication Bias