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Preventive Effect of Electrical Acupoint Stimulation on Lower-Limb Thrombosis: A Prospective Study of Elderly Patients After Malignant Gastrointestinal Tumor Surgery

Hou, Li L. MPH; Yao, Li W. BM; Niu, Qian M. BM; Xu, L. RN; Yu, Qiu H. RN; Sun, Wen Q. RN; Yin, Pei-Hao MD, PhD; Li, Qi MD, PhD

doi: 10.1097/NCC.0b013e3182483415

Background: Lower deep venous thrombosis (DVT) is one of the major complications of patients with tumors or patients undergoing major surgery. Electrical acupoint stimulation, an established technique of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), can be well combined with Western medicine to reduce the incidence of postoperative DVT, especially in elderly patients.

Objective: The objectives of this study were to assess the efficiency of electrical acupoint stimulation in the prevention of postsurgery DVT in elderly patients with gastrointestinal malignant tumors and to validate an effective and safe nursing approach that integrates TCM and Western medicine.

Methods: A total of 120 patients (none aged <60 years) who underwent malignant gastrointestinal tumor surgery between July 2005 and May 2007 were randomly divided into 3 groups: routine nursing group (group C1), graduated compression stockings group (group C2), and electrical acupoint stimulation group (group T). Hemorheological parameters (blood viscosity, etc) were measured and compared before and after surgery.

Results: Compared with groups C1 and C2, group T showed a significant difference in blood viscosity and blood flow velocity (P < .05). However, there were no statistical differences among groups C1, C2, and T in other hemorheological parameters.

Conclusions: By speeding up the blood flow in patients’ lower limbs, electrical acupoint stimulation showed a great potential to prevent symptomless DVT in elderly patients after malignant gastrointestinal tumor surgery.

Implications for Practice: Western medical care combined with TCM can reduce the occurrence of lower DVT in elderly patients suffering from gastrointestinal cancer. This approach may help nurses to plan effective care for elderly patients.

Author Affiliations: Department of Nursing (Mss Hou, Yao, Niu, Xu, Yu, and Sun), Department of General Surgery (Dr Yin), and Department of Oncology (Dr Li), Putuo Hospital, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, China.

This study was supported by the Science and Technology Development Fund of Shanghai Municipal Public Health Bureau (no. 2008Y127).

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Correspondence: Pei-Hao Yin, MD, PhD, Putuo Hospital, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, No. 164 Lanxi Rd, China (; or Qi Li, MD, PhD, Department of Oncology,Putuo Hospital, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai 200062, China (

Accepted for publication December 23, 2011.

© 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.