Auriculotherapy in the Treatment of Pre-Operative Anxiety

  • End date
    Jan 31, 2023
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    Jacques E. Chelly
Updated on 22 March 2022
Accepts healthy volunteers


The goal of this clinical trial is to use the validated PROMIS Emotional Distress - Anxiety - Short Form 8a and PROMIS Emotional Distress-Depression-Short Form pre-and post-intervention to establish a superior correlation between the auriculotherapy treatment and the reduction of perioperative anxiety. Subject population will include those having a partial or total nephrectomy for cancer. Drawing the role that auriculotherapy may play in reducing perioperative anxiety related requirement after surgery may also help in reducing the risk of opioid use disorders (OUD) since anxiety has been found to be a major risk factor for OUD in surgical patients. Therefore, this trial will also examine the effect of the auriculotherapy intervention in reducing opioid requirement after surgery.


Sixty subjects undergoing total or partial nephrectomies will be asked to participate in this IRB approved placebo-controlled randomized study. Potential subjects will be recruited out of the surgeon's office or at a preoperative clinical visit prior to surgery. The clinical care team will introduce the study and request permission for the research team to speak with the patient. If the subject agrees to be approached by a member of the research team, then the research team will approach the subject. During the Informed Consent, a PI or Co-I will be available to answer final questions and facilitate the process.

After signing an informed consent, the subjects will be equally randomized to either active auriculotherapy treatment (with nitrogen gas) or placebo auriculotherapy treatment (without nitrogen gas). Each subject will be asked to complete the PROMIS Emotional Distress - Anxiety

  • Short Form 8a, the PROMIS Emotional Distress-Depression-Short Form and Pain Catastrophizing Scale (PCS) in the pre-operative setting. Those whose anxiety scores are ≥19 and ≤29 will be included in the study and randomly distributed to either treatment allocation.

Randomization will occur by assigning the participant a subject ID number, and this ID number will correspond to a treatment allocation based on a pre-designed randomization schema. This treatment allocation (intervention/control) will be contained in a sealed, opaque, envelope with the subject ID number that is designated on envelope. The master randomization list will be created and held by an independent data monitor who will both create and hold the master randomization list. A data manager research associate will confidentially reveal the randomization to the PI or Amy Monroe so that the study coordinators, Co-Is and subjects will be blinded. PI or Amy Monroe, and the data managing associate will be the only individuals who are unblinded.

Study assessments will be conducted on the day of surgery, in the pre-operative setting. This will include the PROMIS Emotional Distress - Anxiety - Short Form 8a as this is the first assessment conducted after obtaining Informed Consent. It is used to assess eligibility for the study. This assessment will take roughly 5 minutes.

Auriculotherapy treatment will also occur in the pre-operative setting, within one hour of surgery and after the patient has received a peripheral nerve block. For the active treatment group, a nitrogen gas canister will be applied to a cryopuncture device (manual attached), and the tip of the cryopuncture will be sanitized and placed on each treatment point of the ear, releasing a spurt of gas for 2 seconds on each point (7 points total). For the sham device, an empty canister will be applied to the cryopuncture device, and in exactly the same fashion as the treatment group, the tip of the cryopuncture will be sanitized and placed on each treatment point of the ear. Instead of releasing a spurt of nitrogen gas, the empty canister will make the same noise as a full canister, but without the expulsion of gas. We are not expecting any adverse events from performing this technique. The only "adverse event" that is expected is a mild local blistering/scab, which may occur within 24 hours after the treatment. In our experience in our ongoing auriculotherapy study (24 subjects enrolled), we did not observe this adverse event. In the experience of Dr. Chelly(11 years) and Dr. Alimi (30 years), any local blistering or ulceration is extremely mild, and resolves in days without any intervention. No potential adverse effect would require immediate treatment or delay the surgery.

After surgery, the subject will be assessed for pain medication requirement and pain scores in the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) and then assessed daily until discharge. Upon discharge, subjects will repeat the PROMIS Emotional Distress questionnaires and the PCS. Additionally, subjects will be asked to complete an overall satisfaction questionnaire measured on a scale to 0-10.

The subjects will take home a diary where they will record daily NRS pain scores (scale 0-10), daily anxiety level (scale 0-10) and daily analgesic/opioid requirement for one-week post-op. The subject will be contacted daily after discharge until completion of the pain diary at Day 7 post-op, and will also be contacted once at 30-day and 90-day post-op to report the PROMIS Emotional Distress -Anxiety- Short Form 8a, the PROMIS Emotional Distress-Depression-Short Form, and Pain Catastrophizing Scale (PCS) verbally over the telephone. The subject will be contacted via phone daily to gather their responses post op to the surveys, a maximum of three times. If we are unable to reach the subject after 3 days they will be considered lost to follow up. If In addition to this, the subject will be asked to assess their functional recovery using the SF-12 questionnaire, and to report their VAS pain score/opioid consumption for the previous week.

Condition Anxiety Preoperative
Treatment Auriculotherapy cryopuncture device without nitrogen gas, Auriculotherapy cryopuncture device with nitrogen gas
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04836936
SponsorJacques E. Chelly
Last Modified on22 March 2022


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Greater than 18 years of age
Scheduled to undergo partial or full elective nephrectomy
Subject is willing and able to provide informed consent
Anxiety score ≥ 19 and ≤ 29 on the PROMIS Emotional Distress-Anxiety-Short Form 8a

Exclusion Criteria

Opioid dependence, based on the DSM definition of Opioid Use Disorder (OUD)
Chronic pain condition where daily opioid use is needed
Anatomical malformation of ear (genetic or trauma-induced)
History of fibromyalgia
Vasculopathy of ear
Raynaud's disease
Patient Refusal
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If you are confirmed eligible after full screening, you will be required to understand and sign the informed consent if you decide to enroll in the study. Once enrolled you may be asked to make scheduled visits over a period of time.

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