They studied six adolescents with appendicitis and administered acupuncture for pain control prior to surgery. Pain was assessed using three analog scales, and inflammation was measured using serial white blood cell (WBC) counts and C-reactive protein levels (CRP). CRP is a nonspecific indicator of inflammation in the body.
Figure 2 from the paper summarizes the results.
You can see that after 20 minutes of acupuncture, all three pain scores and WBCs declined. However, CRP continued to rise. Conspicuously absent from the figure and the text of the paper are any statistical analyses. This is due to the lack of a significant difference in any of these values because of the limited number of subjects studied.
The authors were undeterred and concluded "Although CRP as a general marker of inflammation stayed roughly the same on sequential blood draws, the median WBC showed a modest and noticeable drop. The implication of this finding is that the effectiveness of acupuncture may have a biophysiological basis." Look at the figure and decide for yourself if the WBC drop is really more noticeable than the CRP rise.
While the authors did mention some limitations of the study including the lack of statistics, they didn't discuss impediments to using acupuncture in patients who present to an emergency department. Whether patients were given antibiotics before or during the acupuncture session was not stated.
Even if the technique actually works [which is certainly not proven by this paper], how practical would it be to have an acupuncturist on call? Would she take in-house call? If not, how long would it take for her to get to the hospital? Would insurance pay for acupuncture? Would the acupuncturist be subject to work hours limitations?
The authors are not proposing acupuncture as a definitive treatment for appendicitis. So what is the clinical value of reducing inflammation? An even better way to reduce inflammation [and pain] is to remove the diseased appendix.
I know how difficult it is to publish papers and continue to do all the clinical and administrative work of an academic physician. As I have said on several occasions, many of my published papers were simply not very good.
But acupuncture to decrease inflammation in appendicitis patients? I doubt you'll be seeing an on-call acupuncturist any time soon.