Changes in Esophageal Motility after Acupuncture

Felipe M Vieira, Fernando A M Herbella, Daniel H Habib, Marco G Patti
Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery 2017, 21 (8): 1206-1211

BACKGROUND: Chinese medicine is widely used in the East with good results for the treatment of many diseases. Acupuncture has been increasingly used and recognized as a complementary medical treatment. Some studies on gastrointestinal motility are available; however, acupuncture effect on esophageal motility is still elusive due to the lack of studies with adequate methodology. This study aims to evaluate acupuncture effect on esophageal motility.

METHODS: We studied 16 (50% females, mean age 26 years) volunteers. No individual underwent acupuncture sessions previously. All individuals underwent high-resolution manometry. The test was performed in three phases: basal measurements, 20 min after acupuncture stimulation of the gastrointestinal point (ST36), or 20 min after acupuncture stimulation of a sham point (5 cm medial to ST36) (crossover). ST36 or sham points were alternated in order based on randomization. Lower esophageal sphincter (LES) resting and residual pressure, distal latency (DL) ,and distal contractility integral (DCI) were recorded. All tests were reviewed by two experienced investigators blinded to the acupuncture point.

RESULTS: LES resting pressure was significantly reduced after acupuncture (p = 0.015, Wilcoxon signed-rank test). DL was significantly increased after acupuncture (either Sham or ST36) as compared to basal measurement.

CONCLUSION: Our results showed that acupuncture on the digestive point decreases LES basal pressure. Acupuncture may be an alternative treatment to spastic disorders of the LES.

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