A study of 75 women who underwent breast surgery under general anesthesia was published in the October, 2004 issue of Anesthesia and Analgesia. The study was performed to test the effectiveness of electro-acupuncture on nausea. The women were randomized to receive either ondansetron (a drug commonly prescribed to prevent nausea), a sham treatment that consisted of placing electrodes without stimulation (the placebo group), or electric stimulation of an acupuncture point (P6).
Electro-acupuncture out-performed the ondasetron. Two hours after the operation, 77% of the group receiving the electro-acupuncture, 64% of the group receiving ondansetron and 42% of the placebo group were free of nausea and vomiting. After 24 hours, 73% of the group receiving the electro-acupuncture, 52% of the group receiving ondansetron and 38% of the placebo group were free of nausea and vomiting. Rescue antiemetics were needed by 19% of the acupuncture group, 28% of the ondansetron group, and 54% of the placebo group. As an added benefit, the group receiving electro-acupuncture had less pain postoperatively than the other two groups.