Public Release:  Does electro-acupuncture prevent prolonged postoperative ileus?

World Journal of Gastroenterology

A research article to be published on January 7 , 2010 in the World Journal of Gastroenterology addresses this question. In this prospective randomized clinical trial, the authors examined if acupuncture could prevent prolonged postoperative ileus (PPOI) after intraperitoneal surgery among patients with colon cancer in Shanghai, China. Acupuncture did not prevent PPOI in this population. Subset analyses in patients who developed PPOI also suggested acupuncture was not useful in this setting to treat PPOI once it developed.

The study was part of a unique collaboration between researchers in the United States at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas and China at the Fudan University Cancer Hospital in Shanghai. Only one previous randomized trial, conducted in the United States, has examined the use of acupuncture to prevent PPOI in cancer patients. According to Meng and colleagues, standard postoperative care is very different in China than in the United States, and some of these treatment differences could play an important role in postoperative gastrointestinal motility and development of complications such as prolonged ileus. The authors state that future studies examining the use of acupuncture to prevent or treat PPOI should include assessment of activity, diet, and postoperative medication for pain control.

This study was funded by a grant from the National Cancer Institute. The Principal Investigator of the international collaboration, Dr. Lorenzo Cohen, stated the focus of the International Center of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for Cancer is to study TCM within its traditional context. Although the study was a negative trial, it is consistent with a similar trial conducted in the United States. We learned from this study that the specific use of certain acupuncture points in combination with standard postoperative care in China had no effect on PPOI, but it also demonstrated that we can conduct rigorous multinational research to examine TCM for cancer. Conducting rigorous research on TCM is an important step towards understanding the potential efficacy and mechanisms of many ancient therapies such as acupuncture.

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Reference: Meng ZQ, Garcia MK, Chiang JS, Peng HT, Shi YQ, Fu J, Liu LM, Liao ZX, Zhang Y, Bei WY, Thornton B, Palmer JL, McQuade J, Cohen L. Electro-acupuncture to prevent prolonged postoperative ileus: A randomized clinical trial. World J Gastroenterol 2010; 16(1): 104-111 http://www.wjgnet.com/1007-9327/16/104.asp

Correspondence to: Lu-Ming Liu, MD, PhD, Department of Integrative Oncology, Fudan University Cancer Hospital, Shanghai 200032, China. llm1010@163.com Telephone: +86-21-64175590 Fax: +86-21-64437657

About World Journal of Gastroenterology

World Journal of Gastroenterology (WJG), a leading international journal in gastroenterology and hepatology, has established a reputation for publishing first class research on esophageal cancer, gastric cancer, liver cancer, viral hepatitis, colorectal cancer, and H pylori infection and provides a forum for both clinicians and scientists. WJG has been indexed and abstracted in Current Contents/Clinical Medicine, Science Citation Index Expanded (also known as SciSearch) and Journal Citation Reports/Science Edition, Index Medicus, MEDLINE and PubMed, Chemical Abstracts, EMBASE/Excerpta Medica, Abstracts Journals, Nature Clinical Practice Gastroenterology and Hepatology, CAB Abstracts and Global Health. ISI JCR 2008 IF: 2.081. WJG is a weekly journal published by WJG Press. The publication dates are the 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th day of every month. WJG is supported by The National Natural Science Foundation of China, No. 30224801 and No. 30424812, and was founded with the name of China National Journal of New Gastroenterology on October 1, 1995, and renamed WJG on January 25, 1998.

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