Acupuncture in Emergency Delirium After Tonsillectomy

  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    IRCCS Burlo Garofolo
Updated on 7 February 2023


Emergence delirium (ED) (also called emergence agitation) can be defined as a "dissociated state of consciousness in which the child is irritable, uncompromising, uncooperative, incoherent and inconsolable crying, moaning, kicking or thrashing".

Tonsillectomy (with or without adenoidectomy) is a routinely performed operation. Emergence agitation is a frequent phenomenon in children recovering from general anesthesia for tonsillectomy, and increases risk of self-injury. It's not unusual for the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) staff look that a child, who was asleep just minutes before, starts screaming, pulling out his intravenous line, looks like he's about to fall out of his bed. This condition requires sedatives that may cause undesirable side effects. The cause of emergence delirium and the mechanism of agitation following general anesthesia is unknown. Probably the volatile agents work on some pathways, possibly in the locus coeruleus or amygdala, in the setting of a specific neurodevelopmental stage of the brain.

While emergence delirium can be seen into adulthood, its peak incidence is in younger children (2-7 years of age). The incidence of ED is unclear: anywhere from 2-80%, but when confounders like pain, nausea etc. are controlled, the incidence is probably around 20-30%.

Limited data suggest that acupuncture may be a safe, nonpharmacological treatment for the reduction of pain and agitation in term and preterm infants and that may be an alternative method for preventing ED. In particular a prospective, randomized, double-bind controlled study demonstrated a reduction of the ED in many surgeries, after the electrical stimulation of the heart 7 acupuncture site.

Nearly 400 acupuncture points are known on the body surface and they belong to 14 meridians, running along the human body. After the needle peeling, the nervous free terminations release some polypeptid (the most important is the substantia P) and it increases the excitability of the near nervous free terminations which cause vasodilatation. It has a myorelaxant effect, decreases the level for pain tolerance and make stronger the inhibitor effect of descendent fibers, with production of endogenous endorphins. This is the reason why acupuncture is considered valid in prevention and control of ED.

Condition Emergence Delirium
Treatment Acupuncture
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04693390
SponsorIRCCS Burlo Garofolo
Last Modified on7 February 2023

Similar trials to consider


Not finding what you're looking for?

Every year hundreds of thousands of volunteers step forward to participate in research. Sign up as a volunteer and receive email notifications when clinical trials are posted in the medical category of interest to you.

Sign up as volunteer

user name

Added by • 



Reply by • Private

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur, adipisicing elit. Ipsa vel nobis alias. Quae eveniet velit voluptate quo doloribus maxime et dicta in sequi, corporis quod. Ea, dolor eius? Dolore, vel!

  The passcode will expire in None.

No annotations made yet

Add a private note
  • abc Select a piece of text from the left.
  • Add notes visible only to you.
  • Send it to people through a passcode protected link.
Add a private note