Neuronal stimulation improves physiological responses to infection and trauma, but the clinical potential of this strategy is unknown. We hypothesized that transdermal neural stimulation through low-frequency electroacupuncture might control the immune responses to surgical trauma and expedite the postoperative recovery. However, the efficiency of electroacupuncture is questioned due to the placebo effect. Here, electroacupuncture was performed on anesthetized patients to avoid any placebo. This is a prospective double-blinded pilot trial to determine whether intraoperative electroacupuncture on anesthetized patients improves postoperative recovery. Patients with electroacupuncture required 60% less postoperative analgesic, even they had pain scores similar to those in the control patients. Electroacupuncture prevented postoperative hyperglycemia and attenuated serum adrenocorticotropic hormone in the older and heavier group of patients. From an immunological perspective, electroacupuncture did not affect the protective immune responses to surgical trauma, including the induction of interleukin-6 and interleukin-10. The most significant immunological effect of electroacupuncture was enhancing transforming growth factor-β1 production during surgery in the older and lighter group of patients. These results suggest that intraoperative electroacupuncture on anesthetized patients can reduce postoperative use of analgesics and improve immune and stress responses to surgery.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Complementary and alternative medicine
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine
- physiological stress