September 1st, 2015 | General | by Andreas Seelisch

Acupuncture Therapy for Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss

By Xin-chang Zhang, Xiu-ping Xu, Wen-tao Xu, Wen-zhen Hou, Ying-ying Cheng, Chang-xi Li, Guang-xia Ni

As published on www.PLOS.org


Abstract

Objective

Acupuncture has commonly been used in China, either alone or in combination with Western medicine, to treat sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL). The purpose of this systematic review is to assess the efficacy and safety of acupuncture therapy for patients with SSHL.

Methods

We searched PubMed, the Cochrane Library, Embase, China National Knowledge Internet (CNKI), Database for Chinese Technical Periodicals (VIP), and Chinese Biomedical literature service system (SinoMed) to collect randomized controlled trials of acupuncture for SSHL published before July 2014.

A meta-analysis was conducted according to the Cochrane systematic review method using RevMan 5.2 software. The evidence level for each outcome was assessed using the GRADE methodology.

Results

Twelve trials involving 863 patients were included. A meta-analysis showed that the effect of manual acupuncture combined with Western medicine comprehensive treatment (WMCT) was better than WMCT alone (RR 1.33, 95%CI 1.19–1.49) and the same as the effect of electroacupuncture combined with WMCT (RR 1.33, 95%CI 1.19–1.50).

One study showed a better effect of electroacupuncture than of WMCT (RR 1.34, 95%CI 1.24–1.45).

For mean changes in hearing over all frequencies, the meta-analysis showed a better effect with the combination of acupuncture and WMCT than with WMCT alone (MD 10.85, 95%CI 6.84–14.86). However, the evidence levels for these interventions were low or very low due to a high risk of bias and small sample sizes in the included studies.

Conclusion

There was not sufficient evidence showing that acupuncture therapy alone was beneficial for treating SSHL. However, interventions combining acupuncture with WMCT had more efficacious results in the treatment of SSHL than WMCT alone. Electroacupuncture alone might be a viable alternative treatment besides WMCT for SSHL.

However, given that there were fewer eligible RCTs and limitations in the included trials, such as methodological drawbacks and small sample sizes, large-scale RCTs are required to confirm the current findings regarding acupuncture therapy for SSHL.

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