Friday, June 6, 2008
Medical Reports: Acupuncture Anesthetic
For centuries, acupuncture has been used for its pain-relieving benefits. Now doctors are using the therapy in a setting where pain management is crucial: during surgery.
WSVN -- T.J. Gan, MD, Anesthesiologist: "Can you feel it there?"
Lauren Hennessey is being prepped for surgery, but along with the common drugs she's getting acupuncture.
Lauren Hennessey: "I can feel it tingling."
Duke University anesthesiologist T.J. Gan says acupuncture sparks the release of natural pain killers in the body, making pain medication work more effectively.
T.J. Gan: "We have found that by using acupuncture, you can potentially reduce the amount of painkillers that you otherwise would need to use during surgery, as well as some studies suggest that acupuncture can also reduce the amount of anesthetic that you need to provide for the patients."
And fewer drugs means fewer side effects.
Lauren Hennessey: "I never vomited. I was nauseous for very shortly, and my pain was very minimal."
Dr. Gan says the pain-relieving benefits may last far longer than the effects of any drugs.
T.J. Gan: "There is also increasing evidence to suggest that this will prevent longer-term pain problems."
But Dr. Gan cautions that while acupuncture provides a great new option for patients, it should only be used as a complement to anesthesia.
T.J. Gan: "For most of the conditions, I think we still need powerful drugs to control pain, but I think acupuncture would be a very useful addition to that regimen."
Acupuncture for surgery pain is now being used at Duke University, Yale, Stanford and Massachusetts General, among others.
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Duke University Medical Center