Anxiety causes physical symptoms such as muscle tension, upset stomach, and shortness of breath. When the body involuntarily reacts this way to a stressful situation such as a surgery, these symptoms can complicate the process. Patients experiencing high levels of preoperative anxiety often have difficulty breathing and receiving anesthesia during surgery. To lessen risks during and after surgery, hospital administrations try to educate patients on the adverse effects of preoperative anxiety as well as try to relax them prior to surgery.

In hopes of calming patients before their big surgery days, Hyojeong Bae from the Department of East-West Medicine at Kyung Hee University researched the efficacy of acupuncture treatment for preoperative anxiety. Bae's latest meta-analysis published in the September 2014 edition of Hindawi shows that acupuncture treatment before surgery significantly reduces anxiety.

Reviewing The Results Of Previous Experiments

Bae reviewed 206 studies on patients who underwent major and minor surgical procedures. Patients with a history of psychological and/or neurological problems were excluded from Bae's review. The primary focus of the 206 studies was to assess the outcomes of acupuncture treatment for preoperative anxiety. Combining all the studies, a total of 439 patients received acupuncture the same day as their scheduled surgery. Acupuncture sessions lasted anywhere between 10 and 30 minutes.

Common measures for anxiety included the State Anxiety Subscale (STAI-S) of the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI). The STAI-S focused on assessing a patient's anxiety “right now."

Acupuncture Is Clinically Proven To Reduce Preoperative Anxiety

Participants who received acupuncture treatment showed significantly lower symptoms of state anxiety levels compared to control groups. Based on the findings of the current meta-analysis, all varieties of acupuncture therapy, delivered in isolation to patients on the day of surgery, are effective," concluded Bae. After researching past acupuncture for preoperative anxiety studies, Bae found none that compared the efficacy of acupuncture and premedication treatments. Bae suggests that future studies compare the efficacy of different methods to find the most effective way to reduce preoperative anxiety.

Date of original publication:
Updated on: December 05, 2016

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