Effect of perioperative electroacupuncture as an adjunctive therapy on postoperative analgesia with tramadol and ketamine in prostatectomy: a randomised sham-controlled single-blind trial

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To study the analgesic effect of electroacupuncture (EA) as perioperative adjunctive therapy added to a systemic analgesic strategy (including tramadol and ketamine) for postoperative pain, opioid-related side effects and patient satisfaction.


In a sham-controlled participant- and observer-blinded trial, 75 patients undergoing radical prostatectomy were randomly assigned to two groups: (1) EA (n=37; tramadol+ketamine+EA) and (2) control (n=38; tramadol+ketamine). EA (100□Hz frequency) was applied at LI4 bilaterally during the closure of the abdominal walls and EA (4□Hz) was applied at ST36 and LI4 bilaterally immediately after extubation. The control group had sham acupuncture without penetration or stimulation. The following outcomes were evaluated: postoperative pain using the Numerical Rating Scale (NRS) and McGill Scale (SF_MPQ), mechanical pain thresholds using algometer application close to the wound, cortisol measurements, rescue analgesia, Spielberger State Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI Y-6 item), patient satisfaction and opioid side effects.


Pain scores on the NRS and SF_MPQ were significantly lower and electronic pressure algometer measurements were significantly higher in the EA group than in the control group (p<0.001) at all assessments. In the EA group a significant decrease in rescue analgesia was observed at 45□min (p<0.001) and a significant decrease in cortisol levels was also observed (p<0.05). Patients expressed satisfaction with the analgesia, especially in the EA group (p<0.01). Significant delays in the start of bowel movements were observed in the control group at 45□min (p<0.001) and 2□h (p<0.05).


Adding EA perioperatively should be considered an option as part of a multimodal analgesic strategy.

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