Minute Sphere Acupressure Does Not Reduce Postoperative Pain or Morphine Consumption

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Minute sphere acupressure has been used for more than 2000 yr and remains popular in Japan. The points most relevant to abdominal surgery are those associated with meridian flows crossing or originating in the abdomen. We tested the hypothesis that minute sphere therapy reduces pain and analgesic requirements after open abdominal surgery. Participating patients were given standardized desflurane and fentanyl anesthetic. On completion of surgery, they were randomly assigned to untreated control or minute sphere acupressure at the Neiguan, Zusanli, Sanyinjiao, and Gongsun points. Each site was covered with bulky gauze dressings so that patients could not determine their assignments. Postoperative pain was treated with IV morphine via a patient-controlled analgesia pump. Our primary a priori end-points were pain and opioid consumption on the first postoperative morning. Data are reported as median (25th percentile, 75th percentile). Fifty-three patients (30 controls and 23 minute spheres) completed the study. Morphine requirements (47 mg [27, 58] vs 41 mg [25, 69]) and pain scores (29.5 mm [16, 59] vs 40 mm [22, 58]) were similar in the control and acupressure groups. These data provide an 80% power for detecting a 50% difference in morphine consumption at an α of 0.05. Minute sphere treatment at the Neiguan, Zusanli, Sanyinjiao, and Gongsun points thus failed to provide analgesia after abdominal surgery.

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