Acupuncture anesthesia used in lung cancer surgery

Cai Wenjun
Acupuncture treatment can reduce the use of anesthesia during surgeries and also help manage post-operation recovery, according to local doctors.
Cai Wenjun

Two patients who received successful lung cancer surgery under acupuncture anesthesia have achieved quick recovery. One patient even drove home after being discharged five days after surgery, doctors said on Friday.

The patients with early stage lung cancer, a 59-year-old woman surnamed Du and a 64-year-old woman surnamed Huang, received acupuncture anesthesia with small amounts of anesthetic sedative without receiving traditional trachea cannula general anesthesia, said doctors from the Shanghai Yueyang Hospital of Integrated Traditional Chinese and Western Medicine.

Du was discharged five days later and drove home by herself, while Huang was discharged three days after surgery.

According to Dr Zhou Jia, president of Yueyang, acupuncture anesthesia is a special anesthetic measure supporting surgery in China. It can sedate, control pain, stabilize circulation and protect organs and is considered an effective replacement or supplement to modern anesthesia.

“Enhanced recovery after surgery, or ERAS, is a new theory and treatment and rehabilitation concept in the 21st century,” Zhou said. “Acupuncture anesthesia has its effects before, during and after surgery and can speed up after-surgery recovery.”

Since 2005, Zhou started to lead his team of the research on acupuncture anesthesia for patients with heart surgery and has successfully reduced the use of anesthetic by 60 to 70 percent through acupuncture anesthesia to protect organs, reduce complications, enhance after-surgery recovery and eventually reduce patients’ medical burden.

Zhou’s team started to introduce acupuncture anesthesia during chest and lung surgery in 2009 and has received good response.

Doctors have then expanded the method to more surgeries involving the neck, breast, bone joints, stomach and also for gastroscopy and colonoscopy exams. The hospital has become the largest clinical center for acupuncture anesthesia in the nation.

“Minimally invasive surgery for early-stage lung cancer is the standard procedure, which requires trachea cannula general anesthesia. It is a typical combination of ‘small surgery’ and ‘big anesthesia.’ Through acupuncture anesthesia, the quantity of anesthetics used in the surgery is only 30 percent and acupuncture is also used for after-surgery sedation and pain control, greatly reducing the use of painkillers and complications,” Zhou added. 

“Minimally invasive surgery and anesthetic techniques are important parts of ERAS. Minimally invasive surgery doesn’t only mean small cuts, but also involves the renovation of anesthesia, rehabilitation, imaging and nursing. We should reduce trauma to the smallest level while ensuring patients’ safety,” he said.

Dr Chen Tongyu from Yueyang also suggested the public do regular screening and CT scans for early lung cancer detection.

Acupuncture anesthesia used in lung cancer surgery
Ti Gong

Dr Chen Tongyu (left) in lung cancer surgery.

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