Peri-operative acupuncture for sinus procedures

While there are many unique and excellent medical services that happen at Exhale Sinus, TMJ, Headache & Sleep, one that deserves some discussion is our preoperative acupuncture services. A large number of clinical trials have confirmed that acupuncture applied to surgical patients is beyond the scope of traditional anaesthesia and has unique advantages.

“Acupuncture Anaesthesia” started in China in the late 1950’s. We feel a special kinship as it started with an ENT practice in Shanghai performing a tonsillectomy with only acupuncture as the anaesthesia. Go ENT!!! It was quickly recognised that less anaesthesia reduced post operative complications and thereby lowered mortality rates. Medical practices started exploring ways to use acupuncture to improve their surgical outcomes and peri-operative acupuncture was born.

Peri-operative acupuncture includes using acupuncture at the pre-operative, intra-operative, and post-operative periods during surgery. Each offers a unique benefit and can be used alone or in combination with each other.

Pre-operative acupuncture is aimed at reducing a patients stress and anxiety prior to surgery and to heighten their pre-operative health. It is probably safe to say that most, if not all, patients experience stress and anxiety prior to a surgical procedure. When that stress is heightened it can interfere with the surgical outcome in several ways. First, it can influence the respiratory and circulatory metabolism of anaesthesia, causing more to be used. It can suppress the immune function which might allow a post-operative infection to occur or prolong the recovery time. It can also lead to sustained anxiety after surgery and increase the post-op sensitivity to pain. In a meta-analysis of eight published studies, it is suggested that acupuncture is effective at reducing the pre-operative anxiety status. Studies have also shown that acupuncture optimises the patient’s pre-operative function and reserve of vital organs as well as stabilitizing blood pressure and blood sugars. Thus optimising the patients health prior to surgery.

There can also be an intra-operative application for acupuncture. When it is used with anaesthesia during the surgical procedure less narcotics are needed. One study shows that narcotics can be decreased by 10-50% when acupuncture is also used. Less narcotics means less adverse reactions to narcotics and that results in healthier outcomes. Included in the healthier outcomes are healthier heart, brain and vital organs post-operatively. And, again, respiratory and circulatory functions have been shown to be optimised when acupuncture is used as part of the anaesthesia protocol. Wake times following the procedure have also been shown to be shortened by about 5 minutes when acupuncture is used.

Finally Post-operative acupuncture has a role in healthier outcomes, especially in the control of pain. When a patient experiences pain post-operatively, it can lead to immunosuppression. With diminished immunity the patient can experience delayed healing, prolonged recovery and an increase in infection. Acupuncture can also help, by as much as 50%, with nausea and vomiting that afflicts 25-35% of all surgical patients. Additionally it can promote post-operative GI function and bladder function. This can include the re-establishment of bowel sounds, first eliminations and the return to a normal diet, all of which speed and enhance surgical recovery. There are even some studies that show acupuncture can prevent the cognitive decline and dysfunction that can especially be a surgical side effect in elder patients.

You have probably heard us say this before but when we envisioned Exhale Sinus, TMJ, Headache & Sleep, we envisioned a medical practice that would help each client Feel Better, Be Better and Thrive! Peri-operative Acupuncture is one of the places we are blazing a trail to make this happen.

The information from this post was taken from:  Chernyak, G MD, Sessler, D MD, Perioperative acupuncture and related techniques. Anesthesiology 2005; 102:1031-49; and, Yuan W, Wang Q. Perioperative acupuncture medicine: a novel concept instead of acupuncture anesthesia. Chin Med J 2019; 132:707-715. Dos: 10.1097/CM9.0000000000000123

Lisa C. Decatorsmith, L.Ac., MSOM
Practitioner of Eastern Medicine at Exhale Sinus, TMJ, Headache & Sleep