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September 2, 1974

Complication of Acupuncture

Author Affiliations

Phoenix, Ariz

JAMA. 1974;229(10):1286. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230480013012

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To the Editor.—  We have recently seen a most unusual complication of acupuncture.A 73-year-old man with severe emphysema was talked into having an acupuncture treatment for his emphysema. Immediately after the acupuncture needles were removed, he began to complain of increasing shortness of breath. Within several hours, he was brought to the emergency room where a pneumothorax was found. On closer questioning, it was determined that an acupuncture needle had been inserted into the anterior chest just below the clavicle, probably in the second anterior rib space. Because of this man's severe disease and the typical muscle-wasting that accompanies it, it is easy to postulate that the acupuncture needle, in fact, penetrated the parietal and then the visceral pleura, causing the pneumothorax.The man was treated appropriately and his pneumothorax responded to closed-chest thoracotomy. The patient's reserve was minimal, however, and after six days in the hospital, his condition