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Home > Newsletters > December 2003

Recent Research

  Acupuncture Improves Anesthetic Response During Dental

Acupuncture May Not Be Contraindicated for Patients with Valvular Heart Disease

Acupuncture Improves Anesthetic Response During Dental Work

The authors report on a pilot study they undertook to investigate if segmental acupuncture treatment, given two minutes prior to a regional inferior dental block (ID) with Prilocaine Hydrochloride, would reduce the onset time of a local anesthetic.

Thirty healthy people who needed a regional inferior dental block (ID) as part of dental treatment in the lower jaw were randomly allocated to three groups. They received segmental acupuncture, heterosegmental superficial acupuncture, or standard treatment (regional inferior dental block) without acupuncture.

All tested patients reported sufficient anesthesia during the drilling test. In the segmental acupuncture group, anesthesia was achieved after 62 seconds, compared to the heterosegmental superficial acupuncture group, which took 115 seconds and the control group -- who received standard treatment only -- and took 119 seconds.

It appears from this pilot study that the onset time of local anesthesia is reduced if segmentally administered acupuncture is given prior to the regional inferior dental block. However, it needs to be reproduced including objective measurements.

Rosted P. and Bundgaard M. Can acupuncture reduce the induction time of a local anesthetic?--A pilot study. Acupuncture in Medicine: Journal of the British Medical Acupuncture Society 21(3):92-9.

Acupuncture May Not Be Contraindicated for Patients with Valvular Heart Disease

Endocarditis has been reported in patients with valvular heart disease who have undergone acupuncture treatment, although most has been associated with the use of semi-permanent needles. This has led reviewers to suggest that acupuncture may not only be contraindicated in such patients but that prophylactic antibiotics should be given.

This study investigated the use of acupuncture treatment in 36 patients with proven valvular heart disease and observed whether endocarditis developed in such patients. All patients in a single-handed GP practice with proven valvular heart disease, including those with prosthetic valves, were identified over a ten-year period. Those who had undergone acupuncture treatment underwent a clinical examination and diagnostic tests that focused on the signs, symptoms and laboratory criteria for the diagnosis of endocarditis and included a transthoracic echocardiogram.

Based on these clinical and laboratory data, patients were identified as having definite or possible endocarditis, or the diagnosis was rejected. All patients underwent brief acupuncture with no skin disinfectant and no prophylactic antibiotics were given. Semi-permanent needles were avoided.

Definite endocarditis was not found in any patient, but two patients had possible endocarditis, which was eventually discounted by both negative blood cultures and echocardiography. The researchers conclude that brief acupuncture was safe in this small cohort of valvular heart disease patients and no case of endocarditis was detected over a ten-year period.

Stellon A. Acupuncture in patients with valvular heart disease and prosthetic valves. Acupuncture in Medicine: Journal of the British Medical Acupuncture Society Sep;21(3):87-91.

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