Background: Electrical stimulation of the P6 acupuncture point reduces the incidence of postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV). Neuromuscular blockade during general anesthesia can be monitored with electrical peripheral nerve stimulation at the wrist. The authors tested the effect of neuromuscular monitoring over the P6 acupuncture point on the reduction of PONV.
Methods: In this prospective, double-blinded, randomized control trial, the authors investigated, with institutional review board approval and informed consent, 220 women undergoing elective laparoscopic surgery anesthetized with fentanyl, sevoflurane, and rocuronium. During anesthesia, neuromuscular blockade was monitored by a conventional nerve stimulator at a frequency of 1 Hz over the ulnar nerve (n = 110, control group) or over the median nerve (n = 110, P6 group) stimulating at the P6 acupuncture point at the same time. The authors evaluated the incidence of nausea and vomiting during the first 24 h.
Results: No differences in demographic and morphometric data were found between both groups. The 24-h incidence of PONV was 45% in the P6 acupuncture group versus 61% in the control group (P = 0.022). Nausea decreased from 56% in the control group to 40% in the P6 group (P = 0.022), but emesis decreased only from 28% to 23% (P = 0.439). Nausea decreased substantially during the first 6 h of the observation period (P = 0.009). Fewer subjects in the acupuncture group required ondansetron as rescue therapy (27% vs. 39%; P = 0.086).
Conclusion: Intraoperative P6 acupuncture point stimulation with a conventional nerve stimulator during surgery significantly reduced the incidence of PONV over 24 h. The efficacy of P6 stimulation is similar to that of commonly used antiemetic drugs in the prevention of PONV.