To evaluate the effectiveness and safety of acupuncture treatment for dysphagia as a complication of stroke. . This is a multicenter, pragmatic, nonrandomized, self-controlled clinical trial. A total of 39 patients were recruited from several Chinese medicine outpatient clinics and hospital-affiliated speech therapy outpatient clinics in Hong Kong. 26 patients completed all the 24 sessions of acupuncture treatment within two months, and only 12 of them were used as self-control. For the self-control group, the retrospective clinical data was taken from the electronic patient records with patient consent. The descriptive swallowing function data were converted into the quantitative Royal Brisbane Hospital Outcome Measure for Swallowing (RBHOMS) scores by two registered speech therapists through a validation process. And the data were validated by reaching consensus between the two speech therapists. All subjects underwent a baseline assessment before commencement of treatment, and outcome assessments were conducted upon the completion of treatment. The primary outcome measure is the RBHOMS score, which is a swallowing disability rating scale for monitoring difficulties in daily swallowing function. Secondary outcome measures include the Chinese version of the Swallow Quality-of-Life Questionnaire and adverse events. All the primary and secondary outcomes were assessed at baseline as well as at the end of acupuncture treatment (month 2).
A total of 39 participants aged 46 to 89 years were enrolled in the study, and the male-to-female ratio was 15 : 11. The mean baseline RBHOMS score of all 39 participants was 5.92 ± 2.23. The mean retrospective RBHOMS score of the 12 subjects who were used as self-control was 5.67 ± 1.72 before enrollment, while the mean RBHOMS score of the 26 participants who completed all the 24 sessions of treatment was 6.92 ± 2.07. There were statistically significant differences between the RBHOMS score at the completion of treatment and baseline (=0.006), and retrospective data (=0.042). Moreover, a significant difference was also found in terms of swallow quality-of-life score before and after acupuncture treatment ( < 0.01).
This pilot study provides preliminary evidence for the effectiveness of acupuncture for poststroke dysphagia. The findings from this trial can be used as a foundation for future full-scale randomized controlled clinical trials to assess the efficacy and safety of acupuncture for poststroke dysphagia. . The ethical approval of the clinical research study was granted by the Research Ethics Committee of both New Territories East and West Cluster of Hong Kong. Written informed consent was obtained from all participants, and the study was undertaken according to the ICH-GCP Guidelines. . This trial is registered with ChiCTR-TRC-12002621 and the registration date is 2012-10-26.

Copyright © 2020 Yu Tat Chan et al.