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Journal of Integrative Medicine ›› 2023, Vol. 21 ›› Issue (6): 537-542.doi: 10.1016/j.joim.2023.10.004

• Original Chinical Research • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Electroacupuncture for abdominal pain relief in patients with acute pancreatitis: A three-arm randomized controlled trial

Dong Kee Jang a, Jun Kyu Lee b, Chan Yung Jung c, Kyung Ho Kim c, Ha Ra Kang d, Yeon Sun Lee d, Jong Hwa Yoon e, Kwang Ro Joo f, Min Kyu Chae f, Yong Hyeon Baek g, Byung-Kwan Seo g, Sang Hyub Lee h, Chiyeon Lim i   

  1. Department of Internal Medicine, Dongguk University Ilsan Hospital, Dongguk University College of Medicine, Goyang 10326, Republic of Korea
  • Received:2022-06-28 Accepted:2023-09-07 Online:2023-12-08 Published:2023-11-02
  • Contact: Jun Kyu Lee

Electroacupuncture (EA) may reduce the severity of acute pancreatitis (AP) and provide additional pain relief in patients with chronic pancreatitis. However, the ability of EA to relieve pain in patients with AP has not been well documented.

This study was undertaken to compare the pain-relieving effects of EA and conventional treatment in patients with AP.

Design, setting, participants and interventions

This study was conducted using a randomized, controlled, three-arm, parallel-group and multi-center design. Patients diagnosed with AP were randomly and equally assigned to EA1, EA2 or control groups. All participants received conventional standard-of-care therapy for AP. Local EA alone was administered in EA1, and local plus distal EA was given in EA2. Local EA included two abdominal acupoints, while distal EA included twelve peripheral acupoints. EA groups underwent one session of EA daily for 4 days (days 1–4), or until pain was resolved or discharged.

Main outcome measures

The primary outcome measure was the change in the visual analogue scale (VAS; 0–100) pain score between baseline and day 5.

Eighty-nine participants were randomized into EA1, EA2 and control groups, and 88 (EA1, 30; EA2, 29; control, 29) were included in the full-analysis set. VAS score change (median [interquartile range]) on day 5 was (12.3 ± 22.5) in the EA1 group, (10.3 ± 21.5) in the EA2 group, and (8.9 ± 15.2) in the control group. There were not significant differences in the change in VAS score among treatments (P = 0.983). However, time to food intake was significantly shorter in the EA group (EA1 + EA2) than in the control group (median 2.0 days vs 3.0 days), with a hazard ratio of 0.581 (P = 0.022; 95% CI, 0.366–0.924). No significant adverse events occurred.

EA treatment did not significantly reduce pain after 4 days of treatment in patients with AP-associated abdominal pain but significantly reduced time to first food intake.

Trial registration: identifier NCT03173222.

Key words: Acute pancreatitis, Electroacupuncture, Pain management, Abdominal pain, Randomized controlled trial

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