Increasing Access to Auricular Acupuncture for Postoperative Nausea and Vomiting

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Postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV) affects more than 30% of surgical patients. Auricular acupuncture (AA) has been shown to decrease the incidence of PONV in select populations.


An evidence-based quality improvement project made AA available to all adult surgical patients, and the results were recorded in a database. A retrospective between-groups analysis of 210 database entries was conducted, of those 25 receiving AA.


More risk factors for PONV were present in the AA group (P < .001). Both groups experienced a less-than-expected rate of PONV. Similar rates were shown between groups for PONV, postanesthesia care unit length of stay, and opioid consumption. Patient satisfaction was 96% with AA. The AA group was treated with less antiemetic medication (P < .001), yet PONV rates remained similar.


A multimodal approach treating patients at risk for PONV is recommended. Administration of multiple antiemetics may result in unnecessary cost or unfavorable side effects when effective and less costly alternatives exist. AA is a viable treatment for PONV, considering cost and patient satisfaction.

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