She gets a collapsed lung after an acupuncture session


The diagnosis was more than unexpected for this Portuguese of 79 years. After her first session of acupuncture, this woman feels intense fatigue, acute pain and suffers from respiratory difficulties. The doctors of the University Hospital Center of Lisbon announce a collapsed lung to him, that is to say, there was a sinking in a cavity or duct around the organ, consequence of an external intervention.

A collapsed lung

Your case was the subject of an in-depth study recently published in the BMJ case reports. An x-ray of her torso shows that she suffers from a lung collapse: air collects in the space between the lung and the chest wall. This creates pressure on the lung, which eventually collapses.

She had already consulted an acupuncturist for chronic upper back pain who had inserted a needle into the area near the scapula. At this point, the lung may be very close to the skin. The needle was inserted into the space between the lung and the chest wall, which is called the pleural cavity. This bite is therefore the cause of the right lung flaccidity.

Fortunately, the patient escaped unharmed and was able to return home after only a few days of observation at the hospital. The doctors had to insert into their chest a tube equipped with a device to remove air and fluid from the pleural cavity and give it oxygen and analgesics.

Several similar cases due to acupuncture

Against all odds, a collapsed lung is considered one of the most common complications after an acupuncture session. Very rare cases of death after acupuncture sessions have also been observed, especially when the needles penetrate a vital organ.

"Although considered a safe practice, acupuncture remains an invasive procedure and involves undeniable risks of complications," the study authors explain. They note that their patient "was not adequately informed of the negative consequences."

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