Use of acupuncture as adjuvant technique in dogs undergoing thoracolumbar hemilaminectomy by Hanna Machin and colleagues at the RVC

Acupuncture was found to help with the quality of pain relief associated with hemilaminectomy in dogs, reducing the need for opioid consumption.
The analgesic efficacy of preoperative acupuncture was assessed in 24 client-owned dogs undergoing thoracolumbar hemilaminectomy. Half of the dogs received acupuncture performed under general anaesthetic for 30 minutes before surgery, and the other half were the control group. Rescue intraoperative fentanyl was administered following a 20% increase in cardiovascular parameters compared to baseline values, measured before incision. Pain was assessed before and after surgery using the Glasgow Pain Scale, Colorado Pain Scale and Visual Analogue Scale, and mechanical thresholds were measured with the Electronic von Frey Anaesthesiometer at four points near the herniated disc.

Dogs receiving acupuncture required significantly less fentanyl and showed significantly improved pain scores compared with control dogs. The dry-needle acupuncture used in this study was found to be feasible in a busy referral centre and did not increase the anaesthetic time. It was also not associated with any side effects, and recovery was smooth and uneventful in all dogs. Combining behavioural scales and mechanical thresholds was shown to be useful in assessing pain.

Performing a single preoperative dry-needle acupuncture session could be considered as a means of pain relief in dogs undergoing spinal surgery.

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