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Bilateral pneumothorax after acupuncture treatment


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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