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The Beneficial Effect of ST-36 (Zusanli) Acupressure on Postoperative Gastrointestinal Function in Patients With Colorectal Cancer

Hui-Lin Chao
Shang-Jun Miao
Pei-Fen Liu
Henry Hsin-Chung Lee
Ying-Miao Chen
Chung-Tay Yao
Hsiu-Ling Chou
ONF 2013, 40(2), E61-E68 DOI: 10.1188/13.ONF.E61-E68

Purpose/Objectives: To evaluate the effectiveness of ST-36 (Zusanli) acupressure on recovery of postoperative gastrointestinal function in patients with colorectal cancer.

Design: A longitudinal, randomized, controlled trial design.

Setting: An urban medical center in Taiwan.

Sample: 60 patients with colorectal cancer who had undergone abdominal surgery.

Methods: Patients were randomly assigned to two groups, the ST-36 acupressure group (n = 30) and a sham acupressure group (n = 30). Patients in the ST-36 group received an acupressure procedure in a three-minute cycle performed three times per day during the five days after surgery. Patients in the control group received routine postoperative care and sham acupressure. Generalized estimating equations (GEEs) were used to gauge longitudinal effects of the two groups of patients.

Main Research Variables: Frequency of bowel sounds, the time to first flatus passage, first liquid intake, solid intake, and defecation.

Findings: Patients who received acupressure had significantly earlier flatus passage and time to liquid intake as compared to patients in the control group. Other main variables, including the first time to solid intake and defecation, did not show significant difference between the two groups. The GEE method revealed that all patients had increasing bowel sounds over time, and the experimental group had greater improvement of bowel motility than the control group within the period of 2-3 days postoperatively.

Conclusions: ST-36 acupressure was able to shorten the time to first flatus passage, oral liquid intake, and improve gastrointestinal function in patients after abdominal surgery.

Implications for Nursing: ST-36 acupressure can be integrated into postoperative adjunct nursing care to assist patients' postoperative gastrointestinal function.

Knowledge Translation: Few studies have explored the effectiveness of acupressure techniques on promoting bowel sounds. Evidence from this study suggests stimulation of the ST-36 acupressure point can increase bowel sound frequency for patients with colorectal cancer in the first three days after surgery. Application of this technique may improve a patient's comfort after surgery.

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