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The cerebrovascular response to traditional acupuncture after stroke


Acupuncture is useful in treating the nausea and vomiting related to chemotherapy, adult postoperative surgery pain and postoperative dental pain. We obtained single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) brain perfusion images of six patients with middle cerebral artery occlusion obtained before and after acupuncture and compared the changes in regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) to those in normal control. Images were obtained before and after acupuncture at six traditional acupoints (LI 4, 10, 11, 15 and 16 and TE5) in the affected arm. The baseline image was subtracted from the postacupuncture image, to produce a subtraction image displaying only voxels with values >2 SD from the mean and those voxels were coregistered to the baseline SPECT or T2-weighted MRI. Similar images were obtained before and after acupuncture of eight normal volunteers. Statistical parametric mapping with a threshold of P =0.001 and a corrected P of 0.05 was performed for group comparison between postacupuncture and baseline SPECT. Focally increased CBF was seen in all patients especially in the hypoperfused zone surrounding the ischaemic lesion, the ipsilateral or contralateral sensorimotor area, or both. Normal subjects showed increased rCBF mainly in the parahippocampal gyrus, premotor area, frontal and temporal areas bilaterally and ipsilateral globus pallidus. Acupuncture stimulation after stroke patients appears to activate perilesional or use-dependent reorganised sites and might be a way of looking at brain reorganisation.

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This study was supported by the Brain Korea 21 Project for Medical Science.

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Correspondence to J. D. Lee.

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Lee, J.D., Chon, J.S., Jeong, H.K. et al. The cerebrovascular response to traditional acupuncture after stroke. Neuroradiology 45, 780–784 (2003).

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  • Acupuncture
  • Stroke
  • Cerebral blood flow
  • Brain reorganisation