Date of Award


Degree Type

Selective Evidence-Based Medicine Review

Degree Name

Master of Science in Health Sciences - Physician Assistant

Department Chair

John Cavenagh, PhD, PA-C


OBJECTIVE: The objective of this selective EBM review is to determine whether or not acupuncture is effective in the prophylaxis of recurrent urinary infections in adult women.

STUDY DESIGN: Systematic review of three English language primary studies, published between 1998 and 2003.

DATA SOURCES: Three randomized, controlled trials published after 1996, comparing acupuncture to placebo in the prophylaxis of urinary tract infections were obtained using EBSCOhost and PubMed.

OUTCOMES MEASURED: All three studies measured incidence or absence of urinary tract infections, as defined by distal urinary symptoms and/or bacteriuria of ≥ 105 cfu/ml.

RESULTS: Three randomized, controlled studies found that acupuncture treatment significantly decreased the incidence of urinary tract infections as compared to no treatment. Alraek et al 2003 additionally showed that Kidney qi/yang xu acupuncture was significantly more effective in UTI prophylaxis than Spleen yang/qui xu acupuncture and Liver qui stagnation.

CONCLUSIONS: Data suggests that acupuncture therapy, specifically for Kidney qi/yang xu, is effective in the prophylaxis of recurrent urinary tract infections in adult women, as evidenced by statistically significant reductions in the incidence of UTIs, as well as low NNT. Acupuncture may be considered as an option for UTI prophylaxis prior to long-term antibiotic therapy. However, further research is needed to determine the mechanism by which acupuncture affects the pathogenesis of UTIs, as well as the cost effectiveness of these acupuncture treatments.