Open Access Research article

Meta-analysis of acupuncture for relieving non-organic dyspeptic symptoms suggestive of diabetic gastroparesis

Mingxing Yang13, Xiumin Li1, Suhuan Liu1, Zhipeng Li1, Mei Xue1, Dehong Gao1, Xuejun Li12* and Shuyu Yang12*

Author Affiliations

1 Xiamen Diabetes Institute, Xiamen, China

2 Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes, the First Affiliated Hospital of Xiamen University, Xiamen, China

3 Department of Electronic Science, School of Physics and Mechanical & Electrical Engineering, Xiamen University, Xiamen, China

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2013, 13:311  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-13-311

Published: 9 November 2013



Acupuncture is widely used to treat diabetic patients with dyspeptic symptoms suggestive of gastroparesis in China. We conducted this systematic review of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to evaluate the efficacy of acupuncture for diabetic gastroparesis (DGP).


We searched PubMed, EMBASE, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) and four Chinese databases including China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI), VIP Database for Chinese Technical Periodicals, Chinese Biomedical Literature Database (CBM) and WanFang Data up to January 2013 without language restriction. Eligible RCTs were designed to examine the efficacy of acupuncture in improving dyspeptic symptoms and gastric emptying in DGP. Risk of bias, study design and outcomes were extracted from trials. Relative risk (RR) was calculated for dichotomous data. Mean difference (MD) and standardized mean difference (SMD) were selected for continuous data to pool the overall effect.


We searched 744 studies, among which 14 RCTs were considered eligible. Overall, acupuncture treatment had a higher response rate than controls (RR, 1.20 [95% confidence interval (CI), 1.12 to 1.29], P < 0.00001), and significantly improved dyspeptic symptoms compared with the control group. There was no difference in solid gastric emptying between acupuncture and control. Acupuncture improved single dyspeptic symptom such as nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite and stomach fullness. However, most studies were in unclear and high risk of bias and with small sample size (median = 62). The majority of the RCTs reported positive effect of acupuncture in improving dyspeptic symptoms.


The results suggested that acupuncture might be effective to improve dyspeptic symptoms in DGP, while a definite conclusion about whether acupuncture was effective for DGP could not be drawn due to the low quality of trials and possibility of publication bias. Further large-scale, high-quality randomized clinical trials are needed to validate this claim and translate this result to clinical practice.

Acupuncture; Dyspeptic symptoms; Diabetic gastroparesis; Gastroprokinetic agent; Meta-analysis