Acupuncture in preventing postoperative anaesthesia-related sore throat: a comparison with no acupuncture

Background Postoperative sore throat occurs frequently in surgical patients as a result of tracheal intubation. Despite advances in medical and anaesthetic care, the incidence of postoperative sore throat remains high. Our study aimed to assess the efficacy of acupuncture in the prevention of postoperative sore throat following general anaesthesia.

Methods A non-randomised clinical study (NRS) was carried out in a tertiary care hospital in Tehran, Iran on 228 consecutive patients undergoing elective surgeries under general anaesthesia. Of these, 114 patients were assigned to the acupuncture group and treated with body acupuncture at the PC6 point, while the remaining 114 patients received no preventive care and were treated with routine medical treatment where necessary. The incidence of sore throat within the first 24 h postoperatively was then compared between the two study groups.

Results Of the 114 patients in the acupuncture group, 16 patients (14%) experienced sore throat within the first 24 h postoperatively, which was significantly lower compared to the 34 patients (29.8%) with sore throat in the medical treatment group (p<0.05). However, the frequency of patients with severe sore throat requiring medical treatment did not differ significantly (12.3% vs 16.7%, p>0.05).

Conclusions Our study suggests that acupuncture could be considered as an option in prevention of postoperative anaesthesia-related sore throat.