The most commonly stated fear of patients prior to elective surgery is not death or a surgical mishap. It's post-operative nausea and vomiting (PONV), and 25 to 40 percent of surgical patients are at risk. Defined as any episode of nausea, retching or vomiting in the 24 hours immediately following an operation.
Acupuncture has been cited by the World Health Organization to treat over 43 conditions effectively by increasing the circulation of blood and lymphatic fluids, reducing muscular tension, and alleviating pain through the release of endorphins. By keeping the body balanced, acupuncture can both restore and maintain health.
In several recent studies, Acupuncture has been proven to lessen PONV symptoms. A trial in 2004 was done to look at the effectiveness of acupuncture in 220 women undergoing gynecological or breast surgeries. The patients who received acupuncture showed a significant decrease in the incidence of PONV. Another study conducted by Duke University Medical Center on breast surgery patients found positive results in the use of Acupuncture to prevent occurrences of post-operative nausea and vomiting. It also stated that Acupuncture increased general patient satisfaction post-op.
According to this study, 70 percent of women who undergo major breast surgery that requires general anesthesia experience PONV, making breast surgery the leading cause of nausea/vomiting post-op. However, 77 percent of the women who were treated with acupuncture suffered no PONV, nor did they require antiemetic drugs (anti-vomiting medication). The women who received acupoint stimulation also had less post-surgical pain.