Acupuncture improves analgesia effectiveness and reduces anesthesia drug usage

Objectives: To evaluate the clinical value and safety of combined anesthesia of acupuncture-pharmacotherapy in pulmonary resection surgery.

Methods: The randomized controlled trials (RCTs) related to combined anesthesia of acupuncture-pharmacotherapy in pulmonary resection surgery were searched in PubMed, EMbase, Cochrane Library, Web of Science, SinoMed, CNKI, VIP database, Wanfang database,, and the Chinese Clinical Trial Registry ( from the inception of each database up to July 12, 2022. The methodological quality of the included studies was assessed using the Cochrane risk of bias tool, and Meta-analysis was conducted using RevMan5.4.

Results: A total of 33 RCTs were included, involving 2 526 participants. The Meta-analysis results showed that compared to conventional anesthesia, the patients receiving combined anesthesia of acupuncture-pharmacotherapy had more stable vital signs during surgery, reduced intraoperative fentanyl usage [SMD=-3.73, 95%CI(-5.28, -2.18), Z=4.72, P<0.000 01], decreased postoperative sufentanil consumption [MD=-20.85, 95%CI(-24.84, -16.86), Z=10.24, P<0.000 01], reduced total/effective presses of the postoperative patient-controlled analgesia pump [MD=-5.70, 95% CI(-9.04, -2.36), Z=3.35, P=0.000 8], lowered postoperative pain visual analogue scale (VAS) [MD=-1.63, 95%CI(-2.02, -1.23), Z=7.97, P<0.000 01], shorter length of postoperative hospital stay [MD=-1.14, 95%CI(-1.85, -0.43), Z=3.15, P=0.002], and higher levels of CD 4+ T lymphocytes, CD 8+ T lymphocytes, natural killer (NK) cell activity, and superoxide dismutase (SOD). Additionally, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), adrenaline and cortisol levels were decreased (P<0.05). No adverse events related to acupuncture or electrical stimulation were reported, and the incidence of postoperative complications was lower than that of conventional anesthesia [RR=0.47, 95%CI(0.36, 0.62), Z=5.36, P<0.000 01].

Conclusions: The combined anesthesia of acupuncture-pharmacotherapy in pulmonary resection surgery could improve anesthesia and analgesia effectiveness, reduce anesthesia drug usage, regulate immune responses, suppress stress reactions, and the safety is satisfactory. However, there is substantial heterogeneity among the included studies, and outcome measures vary widely. Further large-sample, high-quality, internationally standardized clinical trials are needed to clarify its clinical value and safety, providing reliable evidence for clinical practice.


Acupuncture Times Logo

Hi there!

Sign up to receive the latest research in acupuncture, cupping, moxibustion, Chinese herbal medicine and more, once a week.

About Attilio

Doctor of Chinese medicine, acupuncture expert and author of My Fertility Guide and My Pregnancy Guide.

Check Also

Pub Med

Acupuncture syndrome differentiation for erectile dysfunction

Introduction: Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a widespread disorder, and the worldwide incidence is rapidly increasing. Acupuncture, …