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Transcutaneous electrical acupoint stimulation (TEAS) can help relieve postoperative pain and promote recovery of gastrointestinal function after gastrectomy, concludes a Chinese study. Ninety-six patients with stomach cancer who had undergone gastrectomy were randomly assigned to either a TEAS group who received 30 minutes of TEAS twice per day on postoperative day (POD) 1-3, or a control group. TEAS was applied at Hegu L.I.-4, Neiguan P-6, Weishu BL-21, Xiaochangshu BL-27, Zusanli ST-36 and Shangjuxu ST-37. TEAS relieved pain levels by at least 20% overall on POD 1-5, and the decline reached 24.6% on POD 5. This led to a reduction in NSAID consumption by 17.8% and opioid consumption by 31.1% in the TEAS group compared with the control group over this time period. The TEAS group also demonstrated better recovery in terms of gastrointestinal function. Time to first postoperative flatus and defaecation was shorter and frequency of nausea was lower in the treatment group. Length of postoperative hospital stay was 0.3 days shorter in the treatment compared with the control, although this difference was not statistically significant. Haematologic measurements showed that levels of painkilling β-endorphin, interleukin-2, and motilin (which stimulates gastric contractions) were higher in the treatment group on POD 3 and 5, while levels of 5-hydroxytryptamine, and inflammatory cytokines interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) were lower.

Effects of Transcutaneous Electrical Acupoint Stimulation (TEAS) on Postoperative Recovery in Patients with Gastric Cancer: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Cancer Manag Res. 2021 Feb 12;13:1449-1458.