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Acupuncture for Cerebral Vasospasm After Subarachnoid Hemorrhage: A Retrospective Case-Control Study



Abstract Objectives: To examine the possibility of acupuncture as a new promising treatment to prevent delayed cerebral vasospasm, retrospective comparison was done of patient outcomes in patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) treated with and without acupuncture. Materials and methods: Twenty (20) patients with SAH were treated after their ruptured aneurysms had been secured. Acupuncture treatments were applied to the bilateral Zusanli (ST36) and Neiguan (PC6) once a day for 2 weeks, starting within 3 days of the aneurysm rupture. The incidence of angiographic vasospasm and delayed ischemic neurological deficit (DIND), the patient's functional status at discharge, and mortality rate were analyzed. Patient outcomes were compared with those of an age- and severity-matched comparison group composed of patients treated in the hospital without acupuncture. Results: None of the patients who received acupuncture died. Angiographic vasospasms occurred in 5 patients (25.0%) and DIND in 2 (10%). In terms of functional impairment, the modified Rankin score at discharge was ≤2 in 7 patients (35%). In the control group, angiographic vasospasms occurred in 10 patients (55.6%) and DIND in 7 (38.9%), similar to the reported incidence in conventionally treated patients. Conclusions: Patients with SAH who received acupuncture had a significantly lower incidence of DIND and significantly improved function at discharge, suggesting that acupuncture is effective in preventing cerebral vasospasm. In light of these promising results, a randomized controlled trial is warranted to determine the efficacy of acupuncture in a clinical setting.

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