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OBJECTIVE--To examine whether homoeopathy has any effect on pain and other inflammatory events after surgery. DESIGN--Randomised double blind, placebo controlled crossover trial with "identical" oral surgical procedures performed on two separate occasions in 24 patients. INTERVENTIONS--Treatment started 3 hours after surgery with either homoeopathy or placebo. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Postoperative pain and preference for postoperative course assessed by patients on visual analogue scales. Measurements of postoperative swelling and reduction in ability to open mouth. Assessment of bleeding after surgery. RESULTS--Pain after surgery was essentially the same whether treated with homoeopathy or placebo. Postoperative swelling was not significantly affected by homoeopathy, but treatment tended to give less reduction in ability to open mouth. No noticeable difference was seen in postoperative bleeding, side effects, or complaints. Thirteen of the 24 patients preferred the postoperative course with placebo. CONCLUSIONS--No positive evidence was found for efficacy of homoeopathic treatment on pain and other inflammatory events after an acute soft tissue and bone injury inflicted by a surgical intervention. Differences in the order of 30% to 40% would have been needed to show significant effects.