Objective: To evaluate whether electroacupuncture would improve gastrointestinal function and clinical prognosis in patients with severe traumatic brain injury complicated by acute gastrointestinal injury.
Methods: This multicenter, single-blind trial included patients with traumatic brain injury and acute gastrointestinal injury admitted to 5 Chinese hospitals from September 2018 to December 2019. A total of 500 patients were randomized to the control or acupuncture groups using a random number table, 250 cases in each group. Patients in the control group received conventional treatment, including mannitol, nutritional support, epilepsy and infection prevention, and maintenance of water, electrolytes, and acid-base balance. While patients in the acupuncture group received electroacupuncture intervention at bilateral Zusanli (ST 36), Shangjuxu (ST 37), Xiajuxu (ST 39), Tianshu (ST 25), and Zhongwan (RN 12) acupoints in addition to the conventional treatment, 30 min per time, twice daily, for 7 d. The primary endpoint was 28-d mortality.
The secondary endpoints were serum levels of D-lactic acid (D-lac), diamine oxidase (DAO), lipopolysaccharide (LPS), motilin (MTL) and gastrin (GAS), intra-abdominal pressure (IAP), bowel sounds, abdominal circumference, AGI grade, scores of gastrointestinal failure (GIF), Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS), Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE II), Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (SOFA), and Multiple Organ Dysfunction Syndrome (MODS), mechanical ventilation time, intense care unit (ICU) stay, and the incidence of hospital-acquired pneumonia.
Results: The 28-d mortality in the acupuncture group was lower than that in the control group (22.80% vs. 33.20%, P<0.05). Compared with the control group, the acupuncture group at 7 d showed lower GIF, APACHE II, SOFA, MODS scores, D-lac, DAO, LPS, IAP, and abdominal circumference and higher GCS score, MTL, GAS, and bowel sound frequency (all P<0.05). In addition, the above indices showed simillar changes at 7 d compared with days 1 and 3 (all P<0.05) in the electroacupuncture group.
Conclusion: Early electroacupuncture can improve gastrointestinal function and clinical prognosis in patients with severe traumatic brain injury complicated by acute gastrointestinal injury.