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August 2019

Eur J Anaesthesiol. 1993 May; 10(3): 197-208.

Effects of acupuncture and transcutaneous stimulation analgesia on plasma hormone levels during and after major abdominal surgery.

Kho HG, Kloppenborg PW, van Egmond J.

Institute for Anesthesiology, University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

The effects of acupuncture and transcutaneous electrical stimulation (TES) on plasma adrenaline (A) and noradrenaline (NA), adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), beta-endorphin (beta E), anti-diuretic hormone (ADH) and hydrocortisone (cortisol) were evaluated during and, for four days after surgery in 42 male patients submitted to a standardized major abdominal operation in a comparative study of three different anaesthetic techniques. Group 1 received acupuncture and transcutaneous stimulation as the main non-pharmacological analgesic during surgery. Group 2 received moderate-dose fentanyl (initial bolus of 10 micrograms kg-1 followed by continuous infusion of 5 micrograms kg-1 h-1 for the first hour, and then 4 micrograms kg-1 h-1. Group 3 received a combination of both methods. In all three groups analgesia was supplemented, if necessary, by small bolus injections of 50 micrograms fentanyl. Anaesthesia was induced in all groups with thiopentone 5 mg kg-1 and vecuronium 0.1 mg kg-1 and patients were ventilated (N2O:O2 = 2:1) to achieve normocapnia without the use of a halogenated agent. Pre-operatively acupuncture plus TES in Groups 1 and 3 led to a rise in beta E (P < 0.05) without changes of haemodynamics. After intubation beta E did not increase further. Intubation in Group 2 led to an increase of beta E (P < 0.05) also, and to a rise in pulse rate and blood pressure (P < 0.05) in all three groups. Per-operatively acupuncture plus TES in Group 1 showed a response of circulating NA and cortisol similar to that in Groups 2 and 3, whereas the responses of the circulating A, ACTH, beta E and ADH in Group 1 were more pronounced (P < 0.01). Post-operatively no differences in the hormonal profiles could be discerned between the groups with or without acupuncture plus TES (Group 2 vs. Group 3) nor between those with or without moderate-dose fentanyl anaesthesia (Group 1 vs. Group 3). It is concluded that acupuncture and TES have no effect on the cardiovascular response to laryngoscopy and intubation. They can replace moderate-dose fentanyl anaesthesia in major abdominal surgery at the cost of a more enhanced per-operative neuroendocrine stress response, which does not, however, influence the postoperative hormonal profiles nor the rapidity of return to pre-operative values.


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