Acupuncture for Sedation in the Intensive Care Unit

Principal Investigator: Jennifer Watters, MD

What is the Acupuncture study?

Many patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) require mechanical ventilation and sedation. The purpose of this study is to see if acupuncture can lower the amount of sedation needed during mechanical ventilation in the ICU.

Why do this study?

Acupuncture is a medical procedure in which hair-thin sterile needles are inserted at specific points on the body. Very little is known about acupuncture in patients who have been injured and are being cared for in the ICU. Previous studies have shown that acupuncture helped reduce pain and swelling in some patients. However, we do not know if acupuncture can lower the amount of sedation in the ICU.

Who will be included?

Any critically ill patient in the ICU who requires mechanical ventilation and sedation will be eligible.

What is involved?

In order to study the effect of acupuncture on sedation requirements, subjects will be randomized to "fake" acupuncture or real acupuncture. Subjects randomized to fake acupuncture will receive sham needles. These needles retract into themselves rather than poking the skin. The other half of the subjects will receive real acupuncture. These study sessions will last about an hour, twice a day, for five days or until mechanical ventilation is no longer required.

This is a pilot study to determine if it is possible to keep the treatment teams blinded to study interventions while evaluating the effects of acupuncture on sedation requirements.