Acupuncture anesthesia                    

Here are some pictures of open heart surgery with acupuncture anaesthesia with the patient awake and talking, performed around 35 years ago in Hangzhou.  In discussions I had with the surgeon Dr Zhou, he said he needed to interview and choose canditates dependant on their personality. He said while operating he needed to make slower and more careful movements, to minimise discomfort. He also mentioned that the recovery time was quicker and with less complications when compared to a general anaesthetic. It was pictures like these that came out of China in the 70s that stimulated much interest from the West and many early research visits to China.


The following images were taken by myself in the Hanzhou 2nd Red cross hospital in 1984. The operation was removal of 1/2 a thyroid under acupuncture anaesthesia. During the operation the patient asked for a cup of tea. The answer from the surgeons was that the tea would have to be delayed a while as they were operating on the throat area. The electro-acupuncture stimulator can be seen in the first image. Acupuncture with strong stimulation is used, combined with strong electro-stimulation.



Acupuncture anesthesia for open heart surgery in contemporary China.
Zhou J, Chi H, Cheng TO, Chen TY, Wu YY, Zhou WX, Shen WD, Yuan L.
Although the use of acupuncture anesthesia for open heart surgery, which was introduced in China four decades ago, has declined in recent years, there is a renewed interest in it in contemporary China due to the escalating medical costs associated with open heart surgery. This study was aimed to determine whether a combined acupuncture-medicine anesthesia (CAMA) strategy reduces early postoperative morbidity and medical costs in patients undergoing open heart operation under cardiopulmonary bypass.
From July 2006 to October 2010, CAMA was applied in 100 patients undergoing open heart surgery in comparison with another 100 patients under the conventional general anesthesia (GA). For all the CAMA patients, an abdominal breathing training program was practiced for the 3 consecutive days prior to operation. About 15 to 20 min prior to surgical incision, acupuncture needles were inserted into the bilateral points ZhongFu, LieQue, and XiMen. During operation, patients were kept on spontaneous breathing. Endotracheal intubation was not employed but only prepared as a standby. The narcotic drugs, fentanyl and midazolam, were intravenously injected but in very low doses as compared to GA. Open heart procedures were performed routinely in both groups.
Compared with the GA patients, the CAMA patients had a less usage of narcotic drugs (p<0.001), less postoperative pulmonary infection (p<0.05), shorter stay in intensive care unit (p<0.05), and a lower medical cost (P<0.05).
A combined acupuncture-medicine anesthesia strategy reduces the postoperative morbidity and medical costs in patients undergoing open heart surgery under cardiopulmonary bypass.
PMID: 21570137 DOI: 10.1016/j.ijcard.2011.04.002  Int J Cardiol. 2011 Jul 1;150(1):12-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ijcard.2011.04.002. Epub 2011 May 12.