A recent double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study1 of laser acupuncture concludes that the treatment reduces vomiting by 60% for children undergoing strabismus surgery. This surgery works on the extraocular muscles to correct misalignment of the eyes.
While many acupuncturists and doctors of Oriental medicine tailor their treatments to individual patients, most appear to prefer using the P6 point to control vomiting, which is located two cun—a Chinese measurement equaling approximately the width of three fingers—below the distal wrist crease on a patient's lower arm.
In the study, the researchers applied laser acupuncture at P6 15 minutes before anesthesia and 15 minutes after arriving in the recovery room with a low-level laser diode for a period of 30 seconds each time at a continuous 10 mW with a wavelength of 670 nm. The study concludes that the "incidence of vomiting was significantly lower in the acupuncture group" at 25% than that in the placebo group at 85%.
Timing of the acupuncture treatment post-op is key—it must be done prior to induction of anesthesia to achieve optimum results. The researchers reviewed several studies that did not find acupuncture and electro-acupuncture at P6 effective for several types of post-op vomiting, and note that these studies failed to apply acupuncture prior to induction of anesthesia. They suggest that all new research use the protocol of applying acupuncture prior to anesthesia and following completion of the surgical procedure.
A. Schlager et al., Br. J. Anaesth. 81 (4): 529-532 (1998)