Transcutaneous electroacupuncture found to affect refractory vomiting in ICU patients

After transcutaneous electroacupuncture (TEA) therapy gained attention as alternative anti-emetic treatment, a research team investigated its efficacy with severely ill patients who have been confined to intensive care units (ICUs). The small study determined that TEA succeeded in reducing the refractory vomiting in ICU settings. The findings have been published in the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

  • The participants consisted of six men and four women, with an average age of 73 years. The median mortality estimation score was 42. One patient suffered from motion sickness, and four were smokers. Two patients took norepinephrine while three used morphinomimetic analgesics.
  • Electroacupuncture was administered to the Neiguan (PC 6) acupuncture point. Each session lasted 30 minutes. Rescue anti-emetic treatment was given to anyone who vomited or experienced persistent nausea after a session.
  • Most patients reported reduced nausea and vomiting after a TEA session. This improvement lasted for 24 hours for half of the participants. TEA also reduced refractory vomiting incidents caused by chemotherapy or medical operations.
  • The research method is easily duplicated. Researchers used a standard neuromuscular transmission monitor, and the Neiguan (PC 6) point is easy to find for non-acupuncture-trained physicians. TEA therapy is safe, has no complication or side effect, and could even be self-administered.
  • Limitations included the lack of control groups, the difficulty of implementing fully double-blind studies, and the use of just one acupuncture point for all patients instead of a combination of multiple points.

Given TEA’s effectiveness in reducing refractory vomiting episodes in ICU patients, the researchers believe further testing with larger numbers of patients is required to determine the optimal modalities for anti-emetic treatment.

Read the full text of the study at this link.

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Journal Reference:

Bataille BCAE, Chan-Shun C, Nucci B, Verdoux B, Mora M, Cocquet P, Silva S. EFFECT OF TRANSCUTANEOUS ELECTROACUPUNCTURE AT NEIGUAN (PC 6) ON REFRACTORY VOMITING IN PATIENTS IN INTENSIVE CARE UNIT. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine. 2017;37(4):554–557. DOI: 10.1016/S0254-6272(17)30163-2

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