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September 9, 1974

Pneumothorax as Complication of Acupuncture

Author Affiliations

Panorama City, Calif

JAMA. 1974;229(11):1422. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230490024014

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To the Editor.—  It is likely that pneumothorax is the most common, or the most easily recognized, potentially serious complication of acupuncture—at least as practiced in the western world. The recent article in The Journal (228:1552, 1974) by Carron et al describes two such occurrences, and cites as a reference a third (Med J Aust 1:941, 1973). The letters to the editor section of the New England Journal of Medicine (290:167, 1974; 290:633, 1974) provides two additional cases. A sixth patient, receiving her third treatment for atypical migraine in August 1973, noted left medial scapular pain and progressive dyspnea one hour following paravertebral insertion of acupuncture needles. When she sought medical attention 48 hours later, a 35% left pneumothorax was documented (Figure) and treated with insertion of a chest tube. Re-expansion of the lung allowed removal of the chest tube on the third day and discharge from the hospital after