Acupuncture anaesthesia is widely used in China. It often provides the highlight to a ‘tourist trip’ and has been filmed for the Western media on many occasions. Acupuncture anaesthesia has been used in a wide variety of operations, from minor procedures to open heart surgery. It is undoubtedly an effective form of pain relief in the majority of people, but there is always a small percentage who fail to gain adequate analgesia from acupuncture. These failures are quoted at between one and twenty per cent, depending on the operation and the assessments used.
In general, acupuncture allows for a safer operation, with less likelihood of complications, and a swifter post-operative recovery. The main problem is that pain relief may be inadequate and this is unacceptable within the context of Western health care.
One of the main criticisms of acupuncture anaesthesia is that ‘it’s alright for the Chinese, but won’t work on Europeans’. Acupuncture anaesthesia has been used in a variety of European. centers, and the success and failure rate is much the same as in China. Acupuncture anaesthesia is a useful method of pain relief and could well be applicable to minor procedures, or post-perative pain relief, within the context of a Western medical system.
- 1 The effect of acupuncture on endorphin levels is discussed in Chapter 3.