Post-operative nausea and vomiting (PONV) are common complications following surgery and anaesthesia and can add to the stress of hospital stays.
Various drugs for preventing PONV are available and are used regularly, but are only partially effective. Stimulation of the wrist acupuncture point is a promising alternative method. Many trials have been done but these have produced conflicting findings.
A recent systematic review of 26 trials concludes that acupoint stimulation reduces the risk of both nausea and vomiting. These results, in combination with the fact that only a few, minor side effects were experienced, support the use of wrist acupuncture point stimulation to prevent PONV. There was insufficient evidence to conclude whether wrist acupuncture point stimulation is as good or better than antiemetic drugs.
As attention is increasingly focused upon more cost-effective methods for preventing PONV, the results of this review will be of significant importance.
"If you are at high-risk of postoperative nausea and vomiting, techniques such as acupuncture and acupressure wristbands are worth considering in addition to antiemetic drugs," say the authors of the review.
The Cochrane Library - Issue 3 of 2004 is published this week by Wiley, and this newsletter highlights some of the key health care conclusions reached by new Cochrane reviews and their implications for practice.