Use of transcutaneous electrical stimulation in the control of postoperative pain

Am J Surg. 1977 Feb;133(2):185-7. doi: 10.1016/0002-9610(77)90077-0.


Perception and relief of pain were studied in a varied group of fifty patients who had undergone laparotomy with upper abdominal midline incisions. Twenty-six patients were supplied with functioning transcutaneous electrical stimulators. Twenty-four received nonfunctioning machines. The controls were randomized by a nurse not otherwise involved in this study. Only seventeen of the total study group were judged failures and six of the patients had been receiving preoperative narcotics. Patient response was very favorable and pain relief was good to excellent, especially in one group with working stimulators (p is less than 0.008). Patients with known malignant disease did not respond as well as those with benign disease although anxiety may have been an important factor here. Use of the transcutaneous electrical stimulator would seem particularly worthwhile for patients undergoing elective abdominal operations for benign disease with no history of narcotic usage. Briefing the patient preoperatively on the potential value of transcutaneous electrical stimulation as a method of pain relief may improve end-results.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Electric Stimulation / methods
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy*
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain, Postoperative / therapy*
  • Skin