Yes, acupuncture is very effective when used for anesthesia during surgery. By stimulating certain acupuncture points during surgery, an absence of pain is produced and the patient is able to undergo an operation while remaining fully conscious. Acupuncture anesthesia was created in the 1950’s in China and continues to be used there today during most major surgeries. It is widely used in China for such complex operations as brain, heart, and abdominal surgery. It is popular in China because it is economical, practical, and beneficial to the patients. With acupuncture anesthesia there is less bleeding during surgery and, since the patient is mentally alert and able to communicate with the surgeon, the surgeon is able to judge operative results as the operation proceeds. There is also quicker post-operative recovery.
The main benefit of acupuncture anesthesia is its safety. It does not produce any side-effects or accidents, such as often happens when drug anesthesia is used. It is especially suitable for the aged or weakened patient or for allergic patients who are unable to tolerate drugs.
Sometimes acupuncture anesthesia is used in combination with an anesthesia drug. In this case less than half the normal amount of drug is needed and the patient also remains conscious during the procedure.
In every 4,000 surgeries in this country, one patient dies not from the surgery itself, but from he anesthesia. This is a frightening statistic, yet drug anesthesia still remains the only choice for most major surgeries in the United States. One can only hope that in the near future the best techniques and medical experience of both Eastern and Western medicine can combine for the maximum benefit and safety of all patients.