Background: Enhanced recovery pathways can be further improved for postoperative sore throat (POST) that occurs after surgery under general anaesthesia. Medications have shown some effectiveness in preventing POST, but acupuncture or related techniques with better safety and lower cost can be used as an alternative or adjuvant therapy to treat perioperative symptoms by stimulating acupuncture point (acupoint). Therefore, we aimed to conduct a meta-analysis to assess whether acupoint stimulation helps patients prevent POST in adults undergoing tracheal intubation for general anesthesia.
Methods: Publications in PubMed, the Cochrane Central Register, ScienceDirect, and ClinicalTrial.gov were surveyed from January 2000 through August 2020. Studies that compared interventions between true acupoint stimulation and no or sham acupoint stimulation were included. The primary outcomes were the incidence and severity of POST at 24h.
Results: Four randomized control trials and 1 comparative study involving 1478 participants were included. Compared with the no or sham acupoint stimulation, the true acupoint stimulation was associated with a reduced incidence (risk ratio, 0.32; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.18-0.55; P < .001) and decreased severity (standardized mean difference, -2.79; 95% CI, -4.59 to – 0.99; P = .002) of POST. There were no significant adverse events related to acupoint stimulation. The finding for POST was assured by subgroup, sensitivity, and trial sequential analyses.
Conclusions: Acupoint stimulation may reduce the occurrence of POST. It can be considered as one of nonpharmacological methods to prevent POST in enhanced recovery pathways. Further rigorous studies are needed to determine the effectiveness of acupoint stimulation.