Efficacy and safety of electroacupuncture for secondary constipation: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Int J Colorectal Dis. 2023 Jul 15;38(1):196. doi: 10.1007/s00384-023-04487-6.


Objective: Secondary constipation refers to constipation that occurs after certain diseases or medications, such as acute stroke or opioids, and the efficacy of electroacupuncture for secondary constipation is controversial. So, this study aimed to explore the efficacy and safety of electroacupuncture for secondary constipation through a meta-analysis and systematic review.

Method: We retrieved articles from PubMed, Embase, Cochrane Library, Web of Science, CNKI, Wanfang, and VIP databases up to 28 February 2023. The study was screened strictly according to inclusion and exclusion criteria. Revman5.4 was used for quality evaluation; grade rating was used for index evaluation, and stata15.0 was used for data consolidation analysis.

Result: Thirteen randomized controlled studies, involving a total of 1437 people (722 electroacupuncture and 715 control groups), were included in this review. Meta-analysis results indicated that electroacupuncture significantly improved constipation overall response (RR = 1.31, 95%CI: 1.11, 1.55, P < 0.001), reduced defecation straining score (MD = - 0.46, 95%CI: - 0.67, - 0.251, P < 0.001), increased weekly complete spontaneous bowel movements (MD = 0.41, 95%CI: 0.20, 0.63, P = 0.002), and increased in the weekly spontaneous bowel movements (MD = 0.80, 95%CI (0.49, 01.11), P < 0.001), and electroacupuncture had no effect on change stool consistency score compared (MD = - 0.03, 95%CI (- 0.38, 0.33), P = 0.88) and did not increase adverse events (RR = 0.50, 95%CI: 0.18, 1.44, P = 0.20).

Conclusion: According to the current studies, the overall relief rate of patients with secondary constipation after electroacupuncture treatment was improved, the defecation pressure score was reduced, the weekly natural defecation was more complete, and adverse reactions were not increased. Electroacupuncture therefore shows potential for treating constipation, but more high-quality studies are needed to confirm these findings.

Keywords: Constipation; Electroacupuncture; Meta-analysis; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Constipation / therapy
  • Control Groups
  • Defecation
  • Electroacupuncture* / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Research Design