Acupuncture in medicine : journal of the British Medical Acupuncture Society | 21 Mar 2015
MY Karavis, E Argyra, V Segredos, A Yiallouroy, G Giokas and T Theodosopoulos
This paper reports a rare iatrogenic complication of acupuncture-induced haemothorax and comments on the importance and need for special education of physicians and physiotherapists in order to apply safe and effective acupuncture treatment. A 37-year-old healthy woman had a session of acupuncture treatments for neck and right upper thoracic non-specific musculoskeletal pain, after which she gradually developed dyspnoea and chest discomfort. After some delay while trying other treatment, she was eventually transferred to the emergency department where a chest X-ray revealed a right pneumothorax and fluid collection. She was admitted to hospital and a chest tube inserted into the right hemithorax (under ultrasound guidance) drained 800 mL of bloody fluid (haematocrit (Hct) 17.8%) in 24 h and 1200 mL over the following 3 days. Her blood Hct fell from 39.0% to 30.8% and haemoglobin from 12.7 to 10.3 g/dL. The patient recovered completely and was discharged after 9 days of hospitalisation. When dyspnoea, chest pain and discomfort occur during or after an acupuncture treatment, the possibility of secondary (traumatic) pneumo- or haemopneumothorax should be considered and the patient should remain under careful observation (watchful waiting) for at least 48 h. To maximise the safety of acupuncture, specific training should be given for the safe use of acupuncture points of the anterior and posterior thoracic wall using dry needling, trigger point acupuncture or other advanced acupuncture techniques.
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