Acupressure relieved pre-operative anxiety among children undergoing anesthesia, according to recent research.

The study, “Extra-1 Acupressure for Children Undergoing Anesthesia,” involved 52 children, ranging in age from 8 to 17, who were scheduled to receive general anesthesia for gastrointestinal endoscopic procedures.

Subjects in the study were randomly assigned to either the acupressure group or a sham acupressure group. Those in the acupressure group received an acupressure bead intervention at the Extra-1 acupuncture point, also known as the Yin-Tang point in traditional Chinese acupuncture. This point is located between the eyebrows.

Subjects in the sham acupressure group received the same acupressure bead intervention, but it was placed at a sham point above the left eyebrow, which is not connected with any clinical effects.

Similar to applying a bandage, the adhesive bead allows continuous pressure to the point at which it’s placed. Both the true and sham acupressure took place during the pre-operative waiting period.

The children reported their anxiety levels at baseline and while in the waiting area after a half-hour of acupressure, using the State Trait Anxiety Inventory for Children. Procedure-related anxiety was similar in both groups at baseline.

According to data collected during the study, anxiety continued to rise 2 percent among subjects in the sham acupressure group. However, children who received acupressure at the Extra-1 point showed a 9-percent decrease in anxiety.

The study’s authors noted these findings are clinically important, as excessive pre-operative anxiety adds to operative delays and heightens the pain response. In addition, the study’s authors state that acupressure, which involves no needles, is likely to be more appealing to young patients than acupuncture.

 “We conclude that acupressure bead intervention at Extra-1 acupoint reduces preprocedural anxiety in children undergoing endoscopic procedures,” said the study’s authors.

Authors: Shu-Ming Wang, Sandra Escalera, Eric C. Lin, Inna Maranets and Zeev N. Kain.

Sources: Departments of Anesthesiology, Pediatrics, and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut; Departments of Anesthesiology, Pediatrics, and Psychiatry and Human Behavior, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, California; Children’s Hospital of Orange County, Orange, California. Originally published in Anesthesia & Analgesia (2008) 107: 806-810.