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Innovative Hospital: Hospital for Special Surgery

Learn how an anesthesiologist uses acupuncture in the operating room to help ease patient recovery.

Health.com recognizes HSS as a 2023 Innovative Hospital Award winner, celebrating medical institutions that employ fresh and advanced approaches to patient care.  

Stephanie Cheng, MD, anesthesiologist at HSS, performs intraoperative electro-auricular acupuncture, which she said is based on auricular trauma protocol (ATP), an acupuncture practice that was originally used in the military to treat post-traumatic stress disorder. She explained that the acupuncture points she hits from ATP have to do with fear, memory, anxiety, and how the body is feeling overall. Dr. Cheng then added points for anti-inflammation and pain.

Her program at HSS began in October 2018, and she has since seen about 1,000 patients. The program is unique because acupuncture isn’t commonly done in the operating room in the United States. Dr. Cheng said she designed her program with the notion that her office is the operating room. As an anesthesiologist, she sees someone when they come into the operating room and then when they’re asleep. So, she said her objective with acupuncture is to do what she can to help with recovery.

Michael P. Ast, MD, hip and knee surgeon, chief medical innovation officer and vice-chair at HSS Innovation Institute, has been working with Dr. Cheng for about three and a half years and has observed differences in patient behavior in the recovery room with and without acupuncture.

According to Dr. Ast, most patients are sleeping, feeling nauseated, or not looking so great in the recovery room. “The acupuncture patients are sitting up laughing, smiling, joking with me,” he said. “It looks like they’ve never had surgery, and I have never found another way to explain it.”

Read the full article at health.com.