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Auricular acupuncture as an adjunct for pain management during first trimester suction aspiration: a feasibility study

Antoinette Danvers, MD, Columbia University Medical Center, 2015

Project abstract

Most abortions are performed before 13 weeks gestation in outpatient settings using local anesthesia. Patients still experience moderate pain during abortions, and studies of adjuncts to local anesthesia to reduce pain have been inconsistent.

Acupuncture can affect perception of painful stimuli and anxiety. Acupuncture was a good adjunct to management of pain due to pregnancy and labor as well as for peri-operative pain management. Thus, acupuncture for pain during uterine aspiration may be useful and deserves evaluation.

We plan to conduct a pilot study to assess acceptability and feasibility of using auricular acupuncture as an adjunct to pain management during first trimester suction aspiration. Results of a pilot study will determine whether a randomized efficacy trial would be warranted. We will assess women’s willingness to receive auricular acupuncture for pain management and assess patient and provider satisfaction with auricular acupuncture using satisfaction surveys. Participants will complete pre-operative and post-operative visual analog scales (VAS) for pain scores and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) form for anxiety scores; we will compare the pain and anxiety scores in our sample to historical controls to assess whether acupuncture has potential to be an effective adjunct to pain management.

Finally, we will evaluate the challenges of implementing acupuncture in abortion clinical environment by assessing time and resources needed to implement the intervention. This pilot study will also evaluate provider training in the use of auricular acupuncture to see if this practice could be generalizable to most outpatient abortion settings.

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