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Bilateral pneumothorax after acupuncture treatment
  1. Miyuki Nishie1,
  2. Katsunori Masaki1,
  3. Yohei Kayama2 and
  4. Tetsuhiro Yoshino2
  1. 1Division of Pulmonary Medicine, Department of Medicine, Keio University School of Medicine, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, Japan
  2. 2Center for Kampo Medicine, Keio University School of Medicine, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, Japan
  1. Correspondence to Dr Katsunori Masaki; masakik{at}


A 31-year-old female physician was diagnosed with bilateral pneumothorax a day after her acupuncture treatment. Her body mass index was 16.9 and she did not have a prior history of respiratory disease or smoking. Acupuncture needles may easily reach the pleura around the end of the suprascapular angle of the levator scapulae muscle where the subcutaneous tissue is anatomically thin. In our patient, the thickness between the epidermis and the visceral pleura in this area was only 22 mm as confirmed by an ultrasound scan. Although she felt chest discomfort 30 min after the procedure, she assumed the symptom to be a reaction to the acupuncture. In light of our case, we advise practitioners to select appropriate acupuncture needles for patients based on the site of insertion and counsel them regarding the appearance of symptoms such as chest pain and dyspnoea immediately after the procedure.

  • air leaks
  • pneumothorax
  • trauma
  • respiratory medicine

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  • Contributors MN and YK wrote the draft and interpreted data. KM and TY designed the report. All authors approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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