Colorectal Cancer

Annals of Surgical Oncology

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 1164-1169

A Phase II, Randomized, Controlled Trial of Acupuncture for Reduction of Postcolectomy Ileus

  • Gary DengAffiliated withIntegrative Medicine Service, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center Email author 
  • , W. Douglas WongAffiliated withColorectal Surgery Service, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
  • , Jose GuillemAffiliated withColorectal Surgery Service, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
  • , Yi ChanAffiliated withIntegrative Medicine Service, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
  • , Theresa AffusoAffiliated withIntegrative Medicine Service, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
  • , K. Simon YeungAffiliated withIntegrative Medicine Service, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
  • , Marci ColetonAffiliated withIntegrative Medicine Service, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
  • , Daniel SjobergAffiliated withDepartment of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
  • , Andrew VickersAffiliated withDepartment of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
    • , Barrie CassilethAffiliated withIntegrative Medicine Service, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

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Abstract

Purpose

Postoperative ileus (POI) prolongs hospital stay and increases risk of postoperative complications. We conducted a randomized, sham-controlled trial to evaluate whether acupuncture reduces POI more effectively than sham acupuncture.

Methods

Colon cancer patients undergoing elective colectomy were randomized to receive 30 min of true or sham acupuncture twice daily during their first 3 postoperative days. GI-3 (the later of the following two events: time that the patient first tolerated solid food, AND time that the patient first passed flatus OR a bowel movement) and GI-2 (the later of the following two events: time patient first tolerated solid food AND time patient first passed a bowel movement) were determined. Pain, nausea, vomiting, and use of pain medications were evaluated daily for the first 3 postoperative days.

Results

Ninety patients were randomized. Eighty-one received the allocated intervention: 39 in the true acupuncture group and 42 in the sham acupuncture group, all evaluated for the primary endpoint. The mean time to GI-3 was 149 h [standard deviation (SD) 71 h] and 146 (SD 62 h) after surgery for the acupuncture group and the sham acupuncture group (difference between means −2 h; 95 % confidence interval −31, 26; p = 0.9). No significant differences were found between groups for secondary endpoints.

Conclusions

True acupuncture as provided in this study did not reduce POI more significantly than sham acupuncture. The study was limited by a standard deviation much larger than expected, suggesting that a study with a larger sample size might be required.