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PEMF Accelerates Reduction of Post-Operative Pain and Inflammation: Application to Plastic and Reconstructive Surgical Procedures
Christine H. Rohde, MD, MPH, FACS1, Erin M. Taylor, MD1, Jeffrey A. Ascherman, MD, FACS1, Krista L. Hardy, BS1, Arthur A. Pilla, PhD2.
1Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY, USA, 2Departments of Biomedical Engineering, Columbia University and Orthopedics, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA.

PURPOSE: Pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMF) reduce pain and inflammation by enhancing nitric oxide (NO) signaling. This study reports PEMF effects on post-operative pain, wound exudate volume, and IL-1β (inflammation) in breast reduction (BR) and reconstruction (TRAM flap) patients.
METHODS: PEMF (2 msec burst; 27 MHz carrier; 2 bursts/sec; 5V/m) was applied immediately post-operatively to 24 BR and 32 TRAM flap patients in double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized studies. Visual analog scale (VAS) pain scores and total exudate volumes were recorded starting one-hour post-operative. Exudates were stored at -80oC for subsequent IL-1β ELISA analysis.
RESULTS: VAS scores show PEMF accelerated pain decrease by 3-fold in active cohorts (P<0.01; Fig.1). Wound exudate volume was nearly 2-fold higher in sham cohorts (P<0.001). IL-1β in sham exudates increased 3-fold faster within 5 hours and was 3-fold higher 6-24 hrs post-operative (P<0.02; Fig.2). BR and TRAM flap results are summarized in left and right graphs, respectively.
CONCLUSION: This study demonstrates that PEMF rapidly reduces post-operative pain and inflammation for both simple and complex surgical procedures, resulting in decreased narcotic use and morbidity. PEMF therapy has no known adverse effects and provides a simple, non-pharmacological adjunct for the management of post-operative pain and inflammation, thus enhancing surgical recovery.


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