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Summary

Background  The current standard of care in proton pump inhibitor failure is to double the proton pump inhibitor dose, despite limited therapeutic gain.

Aims  To determine the efficacy of adding acupuncture vs. doubling the proton pump inhibitor dose in gastro-oesophageal reflux disease patients who failed symptomatically on proton pump inhibitors once daily.

Methods  Thirty patients with classic heartburn symptoms who continued to be symptomatic on standard-dose proton pump inhibitors were enrolled into the study. All participants underwent upper endoscopy while on proton pump inhibitors once daily. Subsequently, patients were randomized to either adding acupuncture to their proton pump inhibitor or doubling the proton pump inhibitor dose over a period of 4 weeks. Acupuncture was delivered twice a week by an expert.

Results  The two groups did not differ in demographic parameters. The acupuncture + proton pump inhibitor group demonstrated a significant decrease in the mean daytime heartburn, night-time heartburn and acid regurgitation scores at the end of treatment when compared with baseline, while the double-dose proton pump inhibitor group did not demonstrate a significant change in their clinical endpoints. Mean general health score was only significantly improved in the acupuncture + proton pump inhibitor group.

Conclusion  Adding acupuncture is more effective than doubling the proton pump inhibitor dose in controlling gastro-oesophageal reflux disease-related symptoms in patients who failed standard-dose proton pump inhibitors.