Acupuncture in Obstetrics and Anaesthesia

Nina Kvorning

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (compilation)

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The aims of the present thesis (I-V) were to evaluate the analgesic and adverse effects of manual acupuncture for low-back and pelvic pain during pregnancy (I) and for labour pain (II-III), and also to study the effects of low-frequency electro acupuncture (EA) on clinical physiological responses to skin incision in anaesthetized patients (IV-V).

Acupuncture in obstetric patients (I-III)

Manual acupuncture in obstetric patients was found to relieve pain in one prospective randomised (I) and two retrospective (II-III) studies.

Low-back and pelvic pain intensity during pregnancy was decreased by acupuncture (I), and parturients receiving acupuncture required fewer of the other analgesic modalities than the women in the control group (II-III). Neither patients in the acupuncture group nor their infants suffered from substantial adverse effects (I-III).

These findings are in agreement with results obtained by other research groups investigating acupuncture during pregnancy and labour, but future studies are desirable to establish the role of acupuncture in obstetrics. Acupuncture in anaesthetized patients (IV,V)

In contrast to the beneficial effects of acupuncture referred above (I-III), two prospective, randomised, placebo-controlled and double-blind studies (IV,V) revealed that low-frequency EA in anaesthetized patients did not attenuate but instead facilitated clinical physiological response to skin incision.

Patients given EA required a higher steady state concentration of sevoflurane to abolish physiological reactions to skin incision (IV). Furthermore, when exposed to the same steady state concentration of sevoflurane, more acupuncture than control patients responded to surgery with movements of head or limbs, dilation of pupils or divergence of eye axes (V).

Similar results have not been reported elsewhere, although combined high- and low-frequency EA in anaesthetized volunteers was recently reported to have no effect on the response to painful stimulation. In our study, the depth of anaesthesia was not influenced by acupuncture, since the A-line ARX index reflecting AEP activity was found to be similar in the two groups (V). Future studies of the possible mechanisms underlying this effect of EA under general anaesthesia are desirable.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Anesthesiology and Intensive Care
  • [unknown], [unknown], Supervisor, External person
Award date2003 Apr 26
Print ISBNs91-628-56-40-5
Publication statusPublished - 2003

Bibliographical note

Defence details

Date: 2003-04-26
Time: 10:15
Place: Campus Helsingborg

External reviewer(s)

Name: Stubhaug, Audun
Title: [unknown]
Affiliation: MD, PhD


Article: I. Kvorning N, Holmberg C, Grennert L, Åberg A, Åkeson J. Acupuncture relieves pelvic and low-back pain in late pregnancy. Acta Obstetricia Gynaecologica Scandinavica 2003. In press.

Article: II. Kvorning Ternov N, Nilsson M, Löfberg L, Algotsson L, Åkeson J.Acupuncture for pain relief during childbirth.Acupuncture and Electrotherapeutic Research 1998;23:19-26.

Article: III. Kvorning Ternov N, Buchhave P, Svensson G, Åkeson J. Acupuncture during childbirth reduces use of conventional analgesia without major adverse effects: a retrospective study.American Journal of Acupuncture 1998;26:233-239.

Article: IV. Kvorning N, Christiansson C, Beskow A, Bratt O, Åkeson J. Acupuncture fails to reduce but increases anaesthetic gas required to prevent movement in response to surgical incision.Acta Anaestesiologica Scandinavica 2003. In press.

Article: V. Kvorning N, Christiansson C, Åkeson J.Acupuncture facilitates neuromuscular and oculomotor responses to skin incision with no influence on auditory evoked potentials during sevoflurane anaesthesia. Acta Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica 2003. In press.

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Anesthesiology and Intensive Care


  • Anestesiologi
  • intensivvård
  • auditory evoked potentials
  • intensive care
  • Anaesthesiology
  • sevoflurane
  • surgery
  • minimal alveolar concentration
  • inhalation
  • electric stimulation
  • obstetrics
  • delivery
  • childbirth
  • tender points
  • maternaty care
  • anesthesia
  • analgesia
  • labor
  • pregnancy
  • acupuncture
  • pain


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